Bill and Melinda Gates announced their split after 27 years of marriage on Monday
Bill Gates, the fourth richest man in the world with a fortune of about $130billion, and his wife Melinda are divorcing after 27 years of marriage.
The 65-year-old Microsoft founder and his 56-year-old wife announced the split via Twitter on Monday, both posting the same joint statement which read: ‘After a great deal of thought and a lot of work, we have made the decision to end our marriage.
‘Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives. We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue to work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.’
The couple have three kids: Jennifer, 25; Rory, 21; and Phoebe, 18.
The announcement comes less than two weeks after they made their last public appearance, virtually, at a COVID event for healthcare workers.
Gates was already a billionaire he married Melinda in the early 1990s. He founded Microsoft in 1975 and became the world’s youngest billionaire in 1987 at the age of 31. He also met Melinda that year when she was working at the company where he served as CEO.
They married six years later but he deliberated over it and, according to previous interviews given by Melinda, even made a list of pros and cons for marriage on a whiteboard.
The reason behind their split after over a quarter-century remains a mystery but Melinda has previously suggested her husband had trouble balancing work and family.
It also remains unclear if the couple have a prenuptial agreement to help them navigate dividing their wealth – which includes properties in five states, a private jet, an astonishing art collection and a fleet of luxury cars.
The 65-year-old Microsoft founder and his 56-year-old wife shared the news with identical joint statements on Twitter
The couple are pictured with their three kids in a 2019 family photo. The kids – Jennifer (center), Rory (right) and Phoebe (left) are now aged 25, 21 and 18
The pair are pictured during a Zoom appearance on April 19 at One World: Together At Home, a broadcast special to support healthcare workers
The divorce, though one of the most expensive in history, is not the most expensive.
That title goes to Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder who split his $150billion fortune with his wife MacKenzie in 2019 after his affair with Lauren Sanchez was revealed.
Gates co-founded Microsoft in 1975, almost 20 years before he married Melinda. The company made $1million in sales by 1978 and by 1987, he had become the world’s youngest ever billionaire. He met Melinda that year. They are pictured in 1998
They, unlike Bezos, are both part of The Giving Pledge – a collection of the world’s richest people who have all vowed to devote at least half of their fortunes to charity.
In 2000 they founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – the most influential private foundation in the worth with an endowment work nearly $50billion.
Over the last year the foundation has focused on the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines around the world.
As of December, the foundation had committed a total of $1.75billion to the global pandemic response.
In their statement on Monday, the Gates vowed to continue that work together after their split.
The couple met in 1987 when Melinda was working at Microsoft as a project manager and was seated next to Gates at a business dinner.
Melinda described the meeting in her 2019 biography The Moment of Lift, writing: ‘I showed up late, and all the tables were filled except one, which still had two empty chairs side by side. I sat in one of them. A few minutes later, Bill arrived and sat in the other.’
After a year of dating, Gates made a list of the pros and cons of getting married.
‘You know, we cared a lot for each other and there were only two possibilities: either, we were going to break up or we were going to get married,’ Bill said in a Netflix documentary about his life.
She has playfully told how he made a pros and cons lift of whether or not they should get married on a whiteboard. They eventually tied the knot on a golf course on the Hawaiian island of Lanai in 1994, and welcomed their first child together, Jennifer, in 1996.
In 2019, shortly after their 25th wedding anniversary, Melinda gave a rare interview to The Sunday Times in which she revealed how Bill struggled to balance work with family.
‘We’ve just gotten to a point in life where Bill and I can both laugh about more things.
‘And, believe me, I can remember some days that were so incredibly hard in our marriage where you thought, “Can I do this?”‘ she said.
In her memoir published that same year Melinda wrote about her private struggles as the wife of a public icon and stay-at-home mom with three kids.
Bill founded Microsoft in 1975 with Paul Allen. He served as CEO until 2000 then moved into a director role while gradually scaling back his involvement to dedicate more time to philanthropy.
He transitioned out of a day-to-day role in Microsoft in 2008 and served as chairman of the board until 2014. Last year he stepped down from the board of Microsoft entirely, as well as the board of Berkshire Hathaway.
Before joining Microsoft, Melinda attended the elite Duke University in North Carolina.
She grew up in Texas, the daughter of an aerospace engineer and a housewife. Bill also grew up privileged in Seattle. He dropped out of Harvard to pursue Microsoft in the 1970s. His father was a prominent lawyer and his mother was on the board of the financial holding companies.
In 2015 Melinda founded investment firm Pivotal Ventures, which confirmed the couple’s separation on Monday.
Bill Gates made his first billion in 1987, becoming the youngest ever billionaire. He was 31. He founded Microsoft in 1975. Melinda joined the company that year. He is shown, left, in 1985, aged 29, and she is shown, right, in 1995, the year after they married
The one divorce pricier than Bill and Melinda Gates’: Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos split their $137billion fortune after his affair wrecked their 25-year marriage
The divorce of Bill and Melinda Gates marks the second most expensive in the world – coming behind that of Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos.
The Amazon boss and his philanthropist wife, who now uses her maiden name Scott, announced their split in January 2019 after 25 years and four children together.
‘As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends,’ the couple wrote in a statement on Twitter. ‘If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again.’
Hours later the National Enquirer published a bombshell report revealing Bezos’ affair with Lauren Sanchez, who herself was married to Hollywood agent Patrick Whitesell.
The Enquirer claimed to have conducted a four-month investigation into Bezos and Sanchez’s relationship and said it obtained explicit texts and photos the couple had sent to each other.
It was later suggested that Bezos and Scott had timed their divorce announcement to get ahead of the Enquirer report.
Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos announced their split in January 2019 after 25 years and four children together
MacKenzie and Jeff were married from 1993 to 2019 and share four children together. They are all pictured together in 2016
Their divorce was finalized in April 2019 with Jeff keeping 75 percent of the couple’s stock and MacKenzie keeping a four percent stake in Amazon – translating to about 19.7 million shares worth roughly $35billion at the time.
Scott is considered the third wealthiest woman in the world after her net worth surged by $30.3 billion to $61.4billion last year when Amazon shares rocketed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile Bezos also saw a massive windfall as his net worth surged to $201.4billion.
In the wake of the divorce Scott has donated almost $6billion of her wealth to charity.
In a Medium post in December, Scott revealed she had given away $4.1 billion in the previous four months to hundreds of organizations in a bid to help those financially gutted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
She had previously donated $1.68billion to 116 nonprofits, universities, community development groups and legal organizations in July 2020.
In March it was revealed she tied the knot with Dan Jewett, a teacher at a school her kids attended in Seattle.
Bezos, who is still dating Sanchez, extended his congratulations in a statement through an Amazon spokesperson, writing: ‘Dan is such a great guy, and I am happy and excited for the both of them.’
In March it was revealed that Scott, who is worth an estimated $53 billion, had married Seattle teacher Dan Jewett (left). Bezos and his former mistress Lauren Sanchez (right) are still together