Bill and Melinda French Gates Finalize One Of The Largest Divorces In History

·2 min read
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

One of the largest divorces in history is officially complete.

Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates finalized their divorce on Monday, according to filings submitted in King County, Washington. It was not immediately clear how they planned to divide their assets; the pair signed a “separation contract” that was not filed with the court.

Melinda French Gates, who will retain her last name, will almost certainly emerge as one of the richest women in the world. Forbes currently pegs their combined net worth at more than $131 billion.

The co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—the planet’s largest private charity—announced their divorce in May. In the months since, Bill Gates has been engulfed in a media frenzy over allegations of impropriety.

As The Daily Beast reported in May, he allegedly had a more extensive relationship with Jeffrey Epstein than was previously known publicly, which caused a strain on the couple’s marriage. The Beast subsequently reported that Epstein offered Gates relationship advice as the two met at the sex-offender’s Manhattan townhouse, according to two people familiar with the situation. (A representative for Gates disputed the account.)

Other alleged indiscretions have also come to light. According to The Wall Street Journal, Gates stepped down from the board of Microsoft in 2020 while the company investigated an earlier relationship he had with an employee. (A Gates spokesperson told the newspaper his decision to step down had nothing to do with the alleged affair.)

The New York Times added that Gates allegedly pursed other female employees at his foundation and Microsoft “on at least a few occasions.”

All of this marks a precipitous drop in public standing for Gates, who cofounded Microsoft in 1975 before eventually transitioning to full-time philanthropy.

He and French Gates will remain co-chairs of their foundation for at least the next two years, the charity announced last month. At that point, if they decide they can no longer work together, French Gates will resign and will receive funds from Gates to continue her own philanthropic work separately.

The former spouses were married in Lanai, Hawaii, in 1994, on a golf course at the Four Seasons Resort. They have three children together, the youngest of whom is reportedly 18 years old. As a result, the divorce order does not include any child support. The filing says that any other “post-secondary support” is outlined in the separation agreement.

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