Invoice and Melinda Gates file for divorce, shaking philanthropic world

Billionaire benefactors Bill and Melinda Gates, co-founders of one of the world’s largest private not-for-profit foundations, filed for divorce on Monday after 27 years of marriage, saying they had reached an agreement on the division of their property.

In a joint petition for dissolution of the marriage filed in the King County Superior Court in Seattle, the couple stated, “The marriage is irrevocably broken.”

However, the foundation said that Bill Gates, 65, co-founder of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT.O), and Melinda Gates would continue to work together in their existing roles as co-chair and trustee of the organization.

The divorce, stating 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 property division agreement but did not provide details.

“After much thought and work on our relationship, we 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 that we can grow together as a couple in the next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our families as we begin to find our way in this new life,” they said.

Founded in 2000, the nonprofit Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest private philanthropic foundation in the United States and one of the largest in the world, with net worth of $ 43.3 billion at the end of 2019.

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

Last year, investor Warren Buffett reported that he had donated more than $ 2 billion worth of shares in Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) to the Gates Foundation as part of previously announced plans to sell all of his fortune before his death To give away.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda sit during an interview in New York on February 22, 2016. REUTERS / Shannon Stapleton / File Photo

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


The couple “will continue to work together to formulate and approve foundation strategies, advocate for the foundation’s problems, and set the general direction of the organization,” the Gates Foundation said in a statement.

The split comes two years after the divorce of another leading American billionaire and philanthropist, the founder of Inc (AMZN.O), Jeff Bezos, that he and his then-wife MacKenzie were divorced.

Gates left Harvard University to start Microsoft in 1975 with schoolmate Paul Allen. Gates owned 49% of Microsoft when he went public in 1986, making him an instant multimillionaire. With Microsoft’s explosive growth, he soon became one of the richest people in the world.

After a tenure as an executive that made the company one of the world’s leading technology companies, Gates stepped down as CEO of Microsoft in 2000 to focus on philanthropy. He remained chairman until 2014 and left the company’s board of directors in March 2020.

Known in the technology industry as a vicious and ruthless competitor, Gates drew the wrath of rivals, and eventually the US government, at Microsoft’s business practices.

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

Gates’ public role became an avuncular senior statesman when he turned his attention to philanthropy, and he has largely stayed away from the many controversies that are currently plaguing the tech business.

Gates’ wife, who recently referred to herself on most websites and social media as Melinda French Gates, grew up in Dallas and studied computer science and economics at Duke University. She later moved to Microsoft, where she met her future husband.

In 2015 she founded Pivotal Ventures, a women-centric investment firm, and in 2019 published the book “The Moment of Lift,” which focuses on empowering women.

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