Bill Melinda Gates
Bill and Melinda Gates, and their 6,000+ sqm 7-bedroom home on the shores of Lake Washington. Photo – Harley Soltes, KRT, Newscom
  • The divorce settlement will have to deal with US$170M real estate portfolio
  • There was no pre-nuptial agreement signed prior to their 1994 marriage
  • The couple will continue to work on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Three days ago, on Twitter, the fourth richest person in the world announced his divorce:

Married for 27 years, with three children, Bill and Melinda Gates’ divorce will be the highest-profile case since Jeff Bezos and Scott MacKenzie in 2019.

Mr Bezos, the world’s richest, paid out US$38 billion in that settlement, an eye-watering sum. They had been married twenty-five years. It was also announced on Twitter (on January 9th, 2019). Of course it was.

Uni drop-out becomes billionaire

Bill Gates co-founded Microsoft in 1975, a year after dropping out from Harvard. Today, his estimated wealth is US$130 billion (A$167 billion).

Under the laws of Washington State, where they have their sprawling US$125 million 7-bedroom lakeside mansion (see main photo above), properties acquired during the marriage should be split 50:50, unless separate ownership is otherwise agreed.

It looks like there is at least a US$170 million portfolio of properties to divvy up, including the main Seattle home, ranches in Florida and Wyoming and two more homes in California. This is in addition to the Gates’ being the largest private farmland owner in the US, with almost 100,000 hectares across 18 states.

Gates Del Mar
The US$43 million beach house in Del Mar, California. Photo – Guiltina Group, Mega, Newscom.

It has been reported that the couple did not sign a pre-nuptial agreement before their marriage in 1994. At the time Mr Gates was CEO of Microsoft, but already a billionaire (since age 31 in 1987).

Bill Gates became the world’s richest man a year later when his wealth hit US$12.9 billion. The same year Windows 95 came out and his book ‘The Road Ahead’ was published. He stepped down as CEO in 2000, and retired from day to day duties at Microsoft in 2007.

As well as property, the Gates’ own more than US$130 million in artwork and cars. Their charitable foundation has donated over US$50 billion to various causes over the years, and they both aim to continue working on this as co-chairs and trustees.

In a sad footnote, the word ‘divorce’ was googled at record amounts during the peak of the pandemic last year, and US divorces spiked 34% during 2020.

In 2007, Bill Gates finally graduated from Harvard.

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