In shock statement posted to Twitter on Monday, Microsoft co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, announced their decision to divorce after 27 years of marriage, according to the Associated Press.
The high-profile pair stated, “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage.” The statement continued, “Over the last 27 years, 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.”
Pledging to continue working together on charitable efforts across the globe under the auspices of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the couple explained, “…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,” as CNBC noted.
Attention will now turn to precisely how the soon-to-be-ex spouses will divide their massive fortune, which Forbes estimates at roughly $130.5 billion. It remains unclear whether any prenuptial agreement is in place that would govern distribution of their vast holdings, according to Fox Business.
Counted among the Gates’ most significant assets are their Washington estate – likely valued at over $120 million – and Bill Gates’ retained shares in Microsoft, which are thought to exceed over more than 100 million, the outlet noted.
Bill and Melinda Gates are residents of Washington, a community property state in which judges typically split assets acquired during a marriage equally, unless mutual agreement is reached by the parties, as Fox Business further noted.
According to Fox News, the couple first met in 1987 during a trade convention in New York, but did not begin their relationship in earnest until months later when they crossed paths at Microsoft headquarters. Ultimately tying the knot in 1994, the pair went on to have three children together and launch their foundation, which has contributed tens of billions of dollars to causes across the globe.
Word of the impending split immediately invited comparisons to another recent marital dissolution involving one of the world’s richest tech titans. In July of 2019, the split between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and former wife MacKenzie was finalized, as USA Today reported at the time.
The Bezos divorce left the since-remarried MacKenzie Scott with a 4% stake in Amazon that amounted to over $36 billion in value, instantly making her one of the richest women in the world. It goes without saying that the soon-to-be-former Mrs. Bill Gates stands to do quite well in her own right now that her own marriage is moving toward its conclusion.