Shutting the door after the Gates have bolted
After 27 years of marriage, billionaire couple Bill and Melinda Gates are divorcing. Despite “a lot of work on our relationship”, the couple says they “no longer believe they can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives”. They remain co-chairs and trustees of the $50 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. But there is a lot more to divvy up… Bill, who co-founded tech leader Microsoft, is listed by Forbes as the world’s 4th-richest person with a net worth of $170 billion.
WHAT’S THEIR STORY?
Bill (65yo) and Melinda (56yo) met in 1987 at a dinner in New York not long after she started working at Microsoft as a product manager. Their relationship was casual at first, but things got serious – so serious that Bill took to his whiteboard to make a pros-and-cons list about making a long-term commitment. How romantic… The pros must have won out because the couple tied the knot in Hawaii in 1994. They have 3 children – Jennifer (25yo), Rory (21yo) and Phoebe (18yo). And together they built an empire including their philanthropic venture – the largest of its type in the world. It’s the 2nd-largest donor to the World Health Organisation… Over the past 2 decades, it’s spent almost $50 billion tackling malaria and polio eradication, child nutrition and distributing vaccines. And there have been big contributions towards fighting COVID-19, climate change and advocating for women’s rights.
SO… WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH THE DOSH?
That’s the multi-billion-dollar question… Some reports say Melinda could be in line for half of the couple’s wealth if they divorce in a so-called community property state like California, where they own property. Other reports say they have reached an agreement on how to divide their assets, though they haven’t disclosed the details. The pair have chosen high profile lawyers to work that out. There are also questions about the impact the split could have on the good work of the Foundation. They have previously been open about giving the vast majority of their wealth to charity and leaving a fraction of their fortune – US$10 million – for each of their children. What we really want to know: who gets Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester?
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