Bill and Melinda Gates to Divorce After 27 Years

“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” said the statement, which was signed by both people.

The couple have three children together and jointly formed the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which oversees the charitable ventures to which the billionaire philanthropist couple have devoted their fortune.

“We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives,” they said.

Mr. Gates, 65, last year announced he was stepping down from the boards of

Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

BRK.B 1.54%

and Microsoft, the software company he founded in 1975 with childhood friend

Paul Allen.

Mr. Gates built Microsoft into one of the most dominant forces in the then still emerging business of personal computing. In 2000, he handed the role of CEO to longtime colleague

Steve Ballmer.

He scaled back involvement in day-to-day operations of Microsoft in 2008, focusing more on the foundation’s work. He remained active at the Redmond, Wash., company as its chairman until 2014, when

Satya Nadella

became CEO and Mr. Gates became a regular board member.

Mr. Gates’s personal stake in Microsoft is worth around $26 billion, according to FactSet.

At the foundation, Ms. Gates, born Melinda French, has played a high-profile public role on par with that of her husband. She has represented the organization both in remote places and political power centers.

The foundation says it aims to fight poverty, disease and inequity and gives away billions of dollars annually in direct grants. It has committed more than $1.75 billion to back the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic, including efforts to produce 100 million doses of vaccines for poorer countries.

Forbes said the organization is the world’s largest private charitable foundation.

The couple during a reception in Seattle shortly after their January 1994 wedding.


Dave Weaver/Associated Press

Ms. Gates also created Pivotal Ventures in 2015, an investment company, independent of the foundation, working on advancing social progress in the U.S.

Mr. Gates and

Warren Buffett

in 2010 kick-started the so-called Giving Pledge to encourage U.S. tycoons to start making donations earlier in their lives, while they can still be involved in choosing how to spend it. The Giving Pledge has expanded with more than 200 people committing to the initiative from 25 countries.

Mr. Gates is listed by Forbes as the world’s fourth wealthiest person—with a net worth of $130.5 billion—after Inc.

AMZN -2.33%


Jeff Bezos,

French luxury-goods tycoon

Bernard Arnault

and his family and Tesla Inc. Chief Executive

Elon Musk.

Most of the Gates family’s wealth is held by a personal investment firm called Cascade Investment LLC.

Mr. Bezos and his wife,

MacKenzie Scott,

divorced in 2019 after a 25-year marriage during which Mr. Bezos built one of the world’s most valuable companies.

The Gates and Philanthropy

Ms. Scott, who has devoted much of her time to philanthropic efforts, recently remarried. She said in a Medium post late last year that she had given away more than $4 billion of her fortune.

Ms. 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, she met the then-CEO at a dinner during a business trip to New York. He asked her on a date when they ran into each other again in the Microsoft parking lot.

She 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. The couple last year paid $43 million for an oceanfront home near San Diego in one of the largest such deals recorded in the area.

Write to Paul Ziobro at

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