In a joint petition for dissolution of marriage filed in King County Superior Court in Seattle, Bill Gates and Melinda stated: “The marriage is irretrievably broken.”
They filed for divorce on Monday after 27 years of marriage, saying they had reached an agreement on how to divide their assets.
According to Forbes magazine, Bill Gates is the fourth richest person in the world. Melinda Gates was No. 5 on Forbes’ world’s most powerful women list compiled in 2020.
What Bill Gates and Melinda said in the statement
“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,” Bill and Melinda Gates said.
“We want to make people aware of a development in our lives. As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends,” their tweet at the time read.
“We feel incredibly lucky to have found each other and deeply grateful for every one of the years we have been married to each other. If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again,” said the tweet.
It continued: “We’ve had such a great life together as a married couple, and we also see wonderful futures ahead, as parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects, and as individuals pursuing ventures and adventures. Though the labels might be different, we remain a family, and we remain cherished friends.”
The split comes two years after another leading American billionaire and philanthropist, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, said that he and his then-wife, MacKenzie, were getting divorced.
Why Bill and Melinda Gates decided to divorce now
Bill and Melinda Gates split because of a “combo of things” and timed their divorce to coincide with the high school graduation of the youngest of their three children, according to a report.
“It’s absolutely because their youngest child is graduating from high school, and the idea was that they stayed together through that,” a source told People magazine. “They limped through until their kids were out of school like a lot of people.”
The unnamed source cited a combination of factors that led the Gates to split after 27 years of marriage, but did not elaborate.
The source told People that there seemed to be an absence of rage in the separation.
“Nobody is going to want to invite more scrutiny because it’ll hurt their credibility,” the source told the outlet “I don’t think they’re so angry that anybody wants to take each other down, like you sometimes see. [Melinda is] not incentivized for that,” the source added.
One incentive for playing nice was the Gates’ desire to win a Nobel Prize for their philanthropy, the source told the outlet.
“So one thing that was part of this is, if it gets worse, then it ends that. It seems as if that was on the agenda, and that’s for both of them,” the source was quoted as saying.
Gates family going through ‘challenging time’
Jennifer Gates, the 25-year-old daughter of Bill and Melinda Gates, said the family has been going through “a challenging stretch of time,” after her parent’s divorce announcement on Monday.
In her statement, Jennifer wrote that: “It’s been a challenging stretch of time for our whole family.”
“I’m still learning how to best support my own process and emotions as well as my family members at this time and am grateful for the space to do so,” Jennifer wrote.
“I won’t personally comment further on anything around the separation, but please know that your kind words and support mean the world to me,” she said.
“Thank you for understanding our desire for privacy while we navigate the next phases of our lives.”
Melinda Gates was upset after she and Bill Gates met with Jeffrey Epstein
A meeting between Bill and Melinda Gates and Jeffrey Epstein in 2013 left Melinda Gates upset at the relationship between her husband and the financier, The Daily Beast reported.
Sources told the outlet that Bill Gates’ friendship with Epstein when the two first connected in 2011 —”still haunts” Melinda Gates.
The couple met with Epstein in New York City at his Upper East Side mansion in September 2013. Sources told The Daily Beast that soon after the meeting, Melinda Gates told friends of her discomfort during the encounter. Several people close to the couple reportedly said she was “furious” over her husband’s relationship with Epstein.
Gates’ ties to Epstein were first reported by The New York Times in late 2019 following Epstein’s suicide in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, where he was awaiting trial on new charges accusing him of sex-trafficking girls and women.
The Times reported that Gates and Epstein met more than once from 2011 to 2013. The outlet reported that Gates rode on Epstein’s private jet from New Jersey to Palm Beach, Florida, though Gates had previously denied he’d ever traveled with Epstein in a 2019 interview with The Wall Street Journal.
What to know about Melinda Gates
- Melinda Gates, aged 56, grew up in Dallas and earned a master’s in business administration at Duke University before joining Microsoft, where she worked on developing multimedia products, according to the foundation’s website.
- Four months after starting at Microsoft, Melinda Gates met the Bill Gates at a dinner during a business trip to New York in 1987. Bill asked Melinda on a date when they ran into each other again in the Microsoft parking lot.
- They began dating, but as Bill told a Netflix documentary: “We cared a lot for each other and there were only two possibilities: either, we were going to break up or we were going to get married.”
- They got married in 1994 on the Hawaiian island of Lanai, reportedly hiring up all the local helicopters to stop unwanted guests flying over.
- Melinda Gates could be in line for half of the couple’s wealth, if they divorce in a so-called community-property state such as Washington, where Microsoft is based, or California, where they own property.
Bill and Melinda Gates: ‘Gray divorce’
Marriages that end after 25 to 35 years are called “gray divorces, just like the hair color,” said Marilyn Chinitz, a partner at Blank Rome LLP in New York who specializes in complex marital splits.
“Sometimes the person you once knew and loved changes,” Chinitz said. “Sometimes people fall out of love and it’s clear that they did. Despite their wealth, they are no different than anybody else. They looked at each other and say, ‘It’s time to move on.’ Money doesn’t change that.”
In a 2019 Netflix documentary entitled “Inside Bill’s Brain,” Melinda laughed about the memory of finding a whiteboard in Bill’s bedroom that listed “the pros and the cons of getting married,” CNBC reported.
New York Times reports:
Mr. and Ms. Gates have faced relationship struggles over the past several years, two people close to them said. There were several times when the relationship neared collapse, but they worked to keep it together, the people said. Mr. Gates decided to step down from the boards of Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway, in part, so he could spend more time with his family, these people said.
“When he was having trouble making the decision about getting married, he was incredibly clear that it was not about me, it was about ‘Can I get the balance right between work and family life?’” Ms. Gates said in an interview in 2019 in The Sunday Times of London. “And, believe me, I can remember some days that were so incredibly hard in our marriage where you thought, ‘Can I do this?’”
For Valentine’s Day in 2020, Bill Gates posted a photo on Instagram showing him standing with his arm around Melinda Gates. “I couldn’t ask for a better partner on this journey,” the caption said.
Bill Gates and “microchips in COVID-19 vaccine”
Bill Gates expressed disbelief that a theory had him masterminding the delivery of microchips in COVID-19 vaccine shots for the purpose of tracking people.
It makes no sense technologically, he told USA TODAY in January. Even if it were possible, “Why would I be involved in that?” he said. “I don’t get it.”