After 27 years of marriage, billionaire Bill Gates, one of the richest men in the world, and his wife Melinda Gates announced their divorce on Monday, although they will continue to work together in their foundation, one of the most powerful in the world.
“After careful consideration and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” tweeted in a joint statement the two Americans, who reside in Washington state.
The Gates, who have three children, added that they would continue to “work together at their foundation,” the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which fights poverty and disease, but that they don’t think they “can anymore. evolve together as a couple ”.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, now 65, and his wife, 56, a former director of the computer giant, did not immediately say anything about their reasons for separating. They begged the audience to give their families the necessary “space and privacy” to be able to “begin to adjust to this new life”.
Bill Gates is, according to the latest Forbes ranking, the fourth richest man in the world, with a fortune estimated at $ 124 billion. He is placed behind two other Americans, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, and Frenchman Bernard Arnault, and ahead of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
While he made his fortune thanks to Microsoft, he resigned as president in 2014 and from its board last year. Today he devotes himself mainly to philanthropy.
Solicited by many leaders, he has made multiple interventions since the start of the pandemic, against which his foundation has spent more than a billion dollars, according to the New York Times.
This visibility on an illness that fueled political tensions has made him a frequent target of conspiracy theories on social networks.
The foundation he created with Melinda Gates is considered the largest private foundation in the world. It has spent some $ 53 billion in 20 years and employs nearly 1,600 people, according to its official website.
“For and against marriage”
Even if they will continue to work together within their foundation, which they co-chair alongside Warren Buffett, their divorce could lead to changes in the way it is funded, some observers argued. In particular, it is unclear whether Mr. Gates will continue to fund him as regularly as he has done so far.
Bill and Melinda Gates met at a dinner party in New York City shortly after Melinda joined Microsoft in 1987.
In a documentary released on Netflix in 2019, “Inside Bill’s brain”, the Microsoft co-founder explained that after dating for a year, they found themselves faced with the obligation to make a choice: “either break up or get married”.
Bill had made a whiteboard list of “the pros and cons of marriage,” Melinda laughed.
The Gates ‘divorce comes after another multi-billion dollar couple, Jeff Bezos’ divorce from his wife MacKenzie Scott in 2019.
The separation of the latter had, however, been announced after the publication of information about an extramarital affair of the founder of Amazon.
In the case of the Gates, no recent news had suggested a separation, even if Melinda Gates had mentioned tensions in the marriage, in particular in her book “The Moment of Lift”, released in 2019.
MacKenzie Scott has since become the 22e richest person on the planet and an influential philanthropist, donating some 6 billion in 2020 alone. She announced her remarriage last month.