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Home Business Bill and Melinda Gates divorce: Wealth and philanthropy of the billionaire couple

Bill and Melinda Gates divorce: Wealth and philanthropy of the billionaire couple


The billionaire couple filed for divorce after 27 years of marriage.

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 but pledged to continue their philanthropic work together.

Bill Gates, 65, who co-founded Microsoft Corp, and his spouse, Melinda French Gates, 56, in a joint petition, asserted their legal union was “irretrievably broken,” but said they had reached agreement on how to divide their marital assets. Their divorce will entail complex decisions about how to handle their wealth. Mr. Gates is ranked No. 4 on the Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest individuals, with an estimated $124 billion fortune.

Here are details about their wealth and the couple’s philanthropic activities.

Who is Bill Gates?

Mr. Gates is the world’s fourth-richest person with a net worth of $130.5 billion, according to Forbes.

He dropped out of Harvard University to co-found technology giant Microsoft with school friend Paul Allen in 1975. Mr. Gates owned 49% of Microsoft at its initial public offering in 1986, which made him an instant multi-millionaire.

With Microsoft’s explosive growth, he soon became the world’s richest person. He has since lost that title, partly by donating money to philanthropic causes. He was also overtaken due to growth at other companies. Amazon.com Inc founder Jeff Bezos, Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk and Louis Vuitton boss Bernard Arnault and his family take the three top spots on the Forbes wealth list, with Mr. Gates at No. 4.

Gates Foundation

The couple established the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. It is one of the world’s largest charitable organisations, with a focus on public health, education and climate change.

Its grants included some $1.75 billion to vaccine initiatives, diagnostics and research during the coronavirus pandemic.

The foundation ended 2019 with net assets of $43.3 billion,the last full-year financials disclosed on its website.

The foundation spent $5 billion in 2019 on programs in the United States and around the world, excluding management costs.

From 1994 through 2018, Bill and Melinda Gates gave the foundation more than $36 billion, according to the foundation’s website. Warren Buffett has donated more than $29 billion of his fortune to the Gates Foundation since 2006, according to filings.

Division of assets

The couple, who have three children, have a custom mansion with a 2020 assessed value of $130.8 million, according to the King County Department of Assessments, on Lake Washington, which lies between Seattle and its east-side suburbs including Redmond, where Microsoft is headquartered.

The financial details of their split remain unclear. They are seeking division of joint assets, according to a separation agreement they have reached, filed in King County Superior Court.

As one of the few U.S. states with so-called “community property” laws, Washington presumes that most property acquired over the course of a marriage belongs jointly to the spouses and is divided equally in a divorce.

The spouses can also agree that certain assets are separate property, meaning they belong to one of them. Inheritances often fall in this category.



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