It came as a shock to many around the world on Monday, May 3, when billionaire and Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, announced their divorce, after 27 years of marriage.
The pair met in 1987, the same year Bill became a billionaire at the age of 31, and they got married six years later. Bill, now 65, and Melinda, 56, grew to become a formidable force in the world, and the launch of their non-profit organization, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, made them even more powerful, especially in global public health.
Over the past two decades, the foundation has sunk more than $50 billion in the fight against poverty and disease. The former couple had funded innovative programs in malaria and polio eradication, child nutrition, and vaccines. In 2020, amid the pandemic, the organization donated about $1.75 billion to COVID-19 relief.
Bill and Melinda would now spend the rest of their lives separately. Their marriage produced three children, Jennifer Gates, 25 years old and eldest daughter, Rory, 21, and Phoebe, 18.
6 facts about their divorce
- Bill and Melinda announced their divorce in a joint statement released on Monday night, May 3.
- Daily Mail obtained the court filing initiated by Melinda in which she said the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
- The legal document also shows that there was no prenup agreement between the two when they got married.
- The estranged couple said they will continue to work together at their foundation despite the divorce.
- Justifying their separation, they said, “we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”
- Their daughter, Jennifer, described her parents’ divorce as a “challenging stretch of time”.
Their children may not inherit the family fortune
The Gates children would not inherit all the family’s fortune, according to their father. In 2017, during a Reddit Ask Me Anything segment, Bill Gates had said that his children would only inherit $US10 million each, an equivalent of less than 1 percent of his fortune.
“I definitely think leaving kids massive amounts of money is not a favour to them. Warren Buffett was part of an article in Fortune talking about this in 1986 before I met him and it made me think about it and decide he was right,” he said.
The family fortune includes properties in five states, series of private jets, a fleet of luxury cars among which is a rare $2 million Porsche, and an art collection inclusive of a $30 million book of writings and sketches by Leonardo Da Vinci.
Bill Gates’ net worth is $124 billion, according to Forbes. He’s the 4th richest man in the world, queuing behind Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, Tesla founder, Elon Musk, and Bernard Arnault, Louis Vuitton owner.