In this Feb 1, 2019, file photo, Bill and Melinda Gates smile at each other during an interview in Kirkland, Wash. Photo: AP file

Bill and Melinda Gates file for divorce after 27 years of marriage

By Eric M. Johnson and Alexandra Ulmer

Billionaire benefactors Bill and Melinda Gates, co-founders of one of the world's largest private charitable foundations, filed for divorce on Monday after 27 years of marriage, saying they had reached an agreement on how to divide their assets.

In a joint petition for dissolution of marriage filed in King County Superior Court in Seattle, the couple stated: "The marriage is irretrievably broken."

But the foundation said Bill Gates, 65, who co-founded Microsoft Corp, and Melinda Gates would continue to work together in their existing roles as co-chairs and trustees of the organization.

The divorce filing, which states that the couple have no minor children, comes after the youngest of their three children is believed to have recently turned 18. The spouses asked the court to approve their agreement on division of assets but did not disclose details.

"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 each of their individual Twitter accounts.

"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," they said.

Launched in 2000, the nonprofit Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ranks as the largest private philanthropic foundation in the United States and one world's biggest, with net assets of$43.3 billion at the end of in 2019, according to the latest full-year financials shown on its website.

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

Last year, investor Warren Buffett reported donating more than $2 billion of stock from his Berkshire Hathaway Inc to the Gates Foundation as part of previously announced plans to give away his entire fortune before his death.

The Gates Foundation has focused on public health, education and climate. Its initiatives include supporting development of coronavirus vaccines, diagnostic tests and medical treatments as well as support for public radio and the manufacture of solar-powered toilets.


The pair "will continue to work together to shape and approve foundation strategies, advocate for the foundation’s issues and set the organization’s overall direction," the Gates Foundation said in a statement.

Gates dropped out of Harvard University to start Microsoft with school chum Paul Allen in 1975. Gates owned 49% of Microsoft at its initial public offering in 1986, which made him an instant multimillionaire. With Microsoft's explosive growth, he soon became one of the world's wealthiest individuals.

After an executive tenure in which he helped transform the company into one of the world's leading technology firms, Gates stepped down as CEO of Microsoft in 2000 to focus on philanthropy. He remained chairman until 2014 and left the company's board in March 2020.

Known in the technology industry as an acerbic and ruthless competitor, Gates drew the ire of rivals and eventually the U.S. government for Microsoft's business practices.

The software giant was convicted of antitrust violations in the late 1990s. But the verdict was overturned on appeal, and the company then settled the case out of court.

Gates' public persona softened into an avuncular elder statesman as he turned his attention to philanthropy, and he has largely steered clear of the many controversies currently roiling the technology business.

Gates' spouse, who recently began referring to herself as Melinda French Gates on most websites and social media, was raised in Dallas and studied computer science and economics at Duke University. She later joined Microsoft, where she met her future husband.

In 2015 she founded Pivotal Ventures, an investment company focused on women, and in 2019 published a book, "The Moment of Lift", centered on female empowerment.

© Thomson Reuters 2021.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Bill's about to find out that alimony actually means "all the money."

-3 ( +9 / -12 )

They are worth $110 billion which they had intended to donate. They have said they will continue to work together with their foundation.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Bill's about to find out that alimony actually means "all the money."

Which legal code is that?

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Somehow I envy their honesty.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

News is coming in that there was no "pre-nup". What a rookie mistake by Gates. Should have gone to a lawyer when married. He will lose half his empire.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Forget Catholicism, it's not really a sad idea that marriage is contractual (and theirs won't just get renewed for another term). At least Bill and Melinda has made a silver jubilee or 25 year anniversary.

"Til death do us part" pledge seems obsolete. People have been living longer while nearly 30 year union used to be judged as being happy and fulfilled (yet hard to attain as life end nears).

0 ( +1 / -1 )

We married the same year and still going strong.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I find it amazing that people of such extreme wealth and privilege are able to stay married for as long as they have. Given the dire state of marriage in the West there doesn’t seem to be any purpose for someone like Bill Gates to even consider marriage. There is no benefit to it at all - only downsides. Well, I guess that since he is so into charitable giving he can feel satisfied about the billions Melinda will be getting out of him in the divorce settlement.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

I don’t know why, but this makes me sad. They’ve done much good, and I have no doubt they will continue. But still, sad.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I don't think Microsoft was Bill's original idea.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

News is coming in that there was no "pre-nup". What a rookie mistake by Gates. Should have gone to a lawyer when married. He will lose half his empire.

His empire is the foundation. Her empire is the foundation as well. They have already have said the kids get an education and some starter money and that's it. Everything else goes to the foundation. Most likely all the money is in trust anyway so we'll never know for sure what happens. The divorce likely means she'll have a lot more autonomy on how the foundation spends half the funds.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Who cares and even though they will get divorced, we still have to hear their voices.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

Who cares and even though they will get divorced, we still have to hear their voices.

Hearing voices, I knew it.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Somehow I envy their honesty.

Yes, but honesty comes a tad easier when you have a serious fortune, like more money than any mortal needs, which should make it easier for the Gateses to arrange an amicable settlement with their children in mind. Living together is never easy for most, but growing old and dying together is even harder, which, reading between the lines, is evidently the point in life they have both reached.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Even if he gave her 100 billion dollars, he'd still have 10 billion. I don't imagine his life style would change a single bit. The concept of wealth just isn't conventional at their level. It is good that most of their money is supposed to be going to charity.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Hearing voices, I knew it. 

The power of the Gates is strong.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

...the rumor said, that she refused vaccinaction... :))

5 ( +6 / -1 )


”...the rumor said, that she refused vaccinaction... :))”

yer cos she know what’s in it!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Well, that’s sad. I can’t imagine the adjustment required after being together so long.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Divorce at 65 and 56? Two people drift apart when the love was gone. Money cannot make a happy marriage.

0 ( +1 / -1 )


Well, that’s sad. I can’t imagine the adjustment required after being together so long.

Have you seen their house. I'm sure they could go days without running into each other.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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