Bill & Melinda Gates divorce after 27-year marriage

They will continue their work in their foundation.

Belmont Lay | May 04, 2021, 10:14 AM

Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda announced on Monday, May 3 they are divorcing after a 27-year marriage.

The announcement was made in a joint statement on Twitter.

One of the world's wealthiest couples, with an estimated net worth of about US$130 billion, the duo have been engaged in philanthropic work worldwide.

“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” the two said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“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."

The statement also said: “We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in the next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”

'Irretrievably broken'

As reported by media, the couple stated in a joint petition for dissolution of marriage filed in King County Superior Court in Seattle: “The marriage is irretrievably broken.”

An agreement on how to divide their assets has been reached, but the financial details of the decision were not immediately clear.

The divorce filing comes after the youngest of their three children is believed to have recently turned 18.

The two met in New York in the 1980s, early into Melinda’s time at Microsoft.

One of the world's richest power couple

Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates, 65, is the world’s fourth-richest person.

Melinda Gates, 56, is a former Microsoft manager.

She has become an outspoken advocate on global health and equality for women in her role co-running the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

It couldn’t be determined if the two signed a pre-nuptial agreement and it’s unclear how the Gates divorce will impact their philanthropy.

They’ll continue to work together at the massive philanthropic foundation they built, the pair said in the statement.

Through their foundation, the couple has given away more than US$50 billion.

From 1994 through 2018 Gates and his wife, who is 56, have provided gifts of more than US$36 billion to the Seattle-based foundation, the foundation website said.

Bill Gates net worth

Bill Gates’ net worth originated with Microsoft, but shares of the software-maker now probably make up less than 20 per cent of his assets.

Much of his stake has been shifted into the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over the years and his exact stake hasn’t been disclosed since he left Microsoft’s board in 2020.

Gates’ biggest asset is Cascade Investment, a holding company he created with the proceeds of Microsoft stock sales and dividends.

Through Cascade, Gates has interests in real estate, energy and hospitality as well as stakes in dozens of public companies, including Canadian National Railway and Deere & Co.

How he chose Melinda

When deciding whether to marry Melinda, Bill made a pros and cons list on a whiteboard.

This anecdote was related by Melinda in the Netflix documentary series Inside Bill’s Brain.

She talked about how she walked into his bedroom to find him tabulating various factors.

The couple’s philanthropy has always been deeply rooted in their relationship and marriage.

The day before they wed in Hawaii, Bill’s mother, Mary, gave Melinda a letter which closed with the words “From those to whom much is given, much is expected.”

Bill's mothers had been trying to convince her son to dramatically increase his charity.

Mary Gates passed away several months later.

Top photo via Xinhua