They are one of the richest couples in the world, but now, Bill and Melinda Gates are divorcing after 27 years of marriage.
In a joint statement released via both of their Twitter accounts, the couple said: ‘After a great deal of thought and a lot of work, we have made the decision to end our marriage. Over the last 27 years, 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. We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue to work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.’
The couple met in the 1980s when Melinda joined Bill’s firm Microsoft. They were married on the island of Lanai in Hawaii in 1994 and have three children together, Jennifer, 25, Rory, 21, and Phoebe, 18. Writing on Instagram yesterday, Jennifer said it had ‘been a challenging stretch of time for our whole family. Thank you for understanding our desire for privacy while we navigate the next phase of our lives.’
They jointly run the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has raised billions to fight infectious diseases including the coronavirus, as well as promote fair access to vaccinations. As recently as December, the couple made their biggest donation yet of $250 million to the fight against the virus.
Their combined wealth is estimated at $124 billion, raising questions over who will get what in their divorce. The couple’s main residence is their $125 million lakefront mansion near Seattle, which boasts a 100-seater dining room, swimming pool and a library. They own a further three homes, including a $43 million estate in Del Mar, California, as well as a private jet each. What’s more, they have a staggering art collection, which will surely be difficult to split up, including a $30m Da Vinci Codex.
When fellow billionaires Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his ex-wife Mackenzie Scott divorced in 2019, she became the fourth richest woman in the world. She is amongst the billionaires signed up to the Gates’ Giving Pledge, an initiative they set up with Warren Buffett that encourages the world’s wealthiest people to donate the majority of their wealth to good causes.
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