After 27 years of marriage, one of the world’s richest couples have announced they are divorcing, leaving the future of their philanthropic organization in question. What will happen to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation–and how will they split their massive fortune?
Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, the fourth richest person in the world, and his wife Melinda have announced that after 27 years of marriage, they are divorcing. The couple shares three children.
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” the couple tweeted in a joint statement. “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 our work together at the foundation,” the statement continued, “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 pair said in closing remarks.
Bill Gates, 65, who was once the world’s richest person and now ranks fourth, still holds a reported 1.3 percent of Microsoft’s shares and has a net worth of roughly $130 billion, according to Forbes.
Bill first met Melinda, now 56, when she joined Microsoft in 1987. Bill was Microsoft’s CEO at the time. Melinda started as a product manager at the company, the only woman in the first class of MBA graduates to join the company. She eventually rose through the ranks to become general manager of information products.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is considered to be the largest private philanthropic organization in the world, having held that distinction for the past twenty years, NBC reported. The foundation has issued roughly $5 billion in grants each year during 2018 and 2019.
Among the causes the foundation has supported with billions of dollars include vaccinating the world’s children and battling infectious diseases around the globe. As of December, the foundation had invested $1.7 billion toward the global pandemic response.
Bill stepped down from the Board of Directors of Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway in March 2022 to “dedicate more time to his philanthropic priorities,” which includes work to combat climate change. According to financial statements, the foundation currently has assets of nearly $50 billion. Currently, it’s not clear how the couple plans to split their assets–or their shared foundation.