Melinda Gates is set to become the latest member of Silicon Valley's billionaire ex-wives club after filing for divorce from husband Bill after 27 years.
It makes the couple, worth $130billion, the second-most valuable to divorce after Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott split in 2019, after it was revealed Bezos was having an affair.
There is no infidelity involved in the Gates split, with the pair revealing they decided to part ways because 'we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple', while remaining business partners in their foundation.
But in all other aspects, the two divorces draw comparisons: Like Jeff and MacKenzie, the Gateses have no prenup and so are working to divvy up their estate between them.
While the exact breakdown is not yet clear, Melinda will almost certainly walk away from it a billionaire just as MacKenzie - currently worth some $60billion - did, and has vowed to continue with her philanthropic work, just like her counterpart who donated $6billion to charitable causes last year.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Could it be that seeing MacKenzie thrive in her new initiatives - and find love again with new husband, high school chemistry teacher Dan Jewett, whom she married in March this year - gave Melinda the confidence to go it alone?
In June last year, MacKenzie teamed up with Melinda to launch a $30million new venture called the Equality Can't Wait Challenge, funding companies that will expand women's influence in the US by 2030.
While Melinda has long been a public advocate for gender equality, it marked the largest public philanthropic effort for MacKenzie and was her first public philanthropic effort since her divorce.
Melinda Gates is set to become the latest member of Silicon Valley's billionaire ex-wives club after announcing her marriage to husband Bill (pictured together in 2017) is 'irretrievably broken', joining MacKenzie Scott, the former spouse of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos
Naturally the Gates' split has drawn comparisons to the recent split of fellow high profile Seattle-area billionaire couple, Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos (pictured in March 2018) - who has since adopted her grandfather's surname Scott
It's believed MacKenzie and Jeff did not have a prenuptial agreement in place when they dissolved their 25-year marriage in 2019 - at a time when Amazon founder Bezos' reported net worth amounted to nearly $157 billion - after it emerged he was conducting an extramarital with former newscaster Lauren Sanchez.
Since their split, MacKenzie is very much focused on her own philanthropy work. In December it was reported she had given 9.4 per cent of her $60billion fortune to charity in a year.
It followed her signing up to pledge at least half of her wealth to The Giving Pledge - an organization founded by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett - in May 2019.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
The two women certainly have a lot in common; they met their respective exes at work and faced the dilemma of juggling high flying careers with motherhood.
MacKenzie met her now ex-husband while working for him at D.E. Shaw as his assistant before becoming one of Amazon's first employees when they left to co-found the company. When Amazon took off, MacKenzie adopted a less involved role in the business, preferring to focus on their four children and her literary career.
Melinda and Bill met when she was hired by his company Microsoft as a product manager in 1987, and married in 1994. When Melinda fell pregnant she announced that she would be quitting work job after giving birth - a decision she says left Bill horrified.
Shortly after giving birth to eldest daughter Jennifer, Melinda says she felt incredibly 'alone' because her husband was spending so much of his time working, leaving her to take on the majority of the parenting duties by herself, and she admits she questioned whether he was actually invested in fatherhood.
It wasn't until they came together again professionally in 2000 to set up the non-profit Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that she began working again.
The couple said their work with the Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - the world's largest charitable foundation which they established in 2000 - will continue, but not their marriage, adding: 'We no longer feel we are able to grow as a couple in this next phase of our lives'
Melinda filed a petition for divorce from Bill on Monday in the Superior Court of Washington - King County. In the petition (pictured) she described their marriage as 'irretrievably broken'
The 65-year-old Microsoft founder and his 56-year-old wife shared the news with identical statements on Twitter (pictured)
The couple are pictured with their three kids in a 2019 family photo. The kids - Jennifer (center), Rory (right) and Phoebe (left) are now aged 25, 21 and 18
Melinda clearly thrives on their philanthropic work which for the past two decades has thrust her into the spotlight. Her experience of working a male-dominated workplace at Microsoft has undoubtedly spurred her to champion gender equality.
While the reason behind their split after over a quarter-century remains a mystery, Melinda has previously suggested her husband had trouble balancing work and family.
The couple said their work with the Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - the world's largest charitable foundation which they established in 2000 - will continue, but not their marriage, adding: 'We no longer feel we are able to grow as a couple in this next phase of our lives.'
In her memoir published that same year Melinda wrote about her private struggles as the wife of a public icon and stay-at-home mother with three kids.
In 2015 she founded Pivotal Ventures as a separate, independent organization to identify, help develop and implement innovative solutions to problems affecting women and families in the US.
In 2017 she said: 'As I thought about strong women of history, I realized that they stepped out in some way".
Shortly after her divorce, MacKenzie announced she'd joined The Giving Pledge, an organization set up by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett where the richest people in the world donate half of their wealth to charity
Bill made his first billion in 1987, becoming the youngest ever billionaire. He was 31. He founded Microsoft in 1975. Melinda joined the company that year. He is shown, left, in 1985, aged 29, and she is shown, right, in 1995, the year after they married
The pair are pictured during a Zoom appearance on April 19 at One World: Together At Home, a broadcast special to support healthcare workers
Two years later she published The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World, in which she shares stories of women she met during her years of humanitarian work who have 'have called her to action', along with her own personal journey to achieving equality in her marriage, finding her voice and becoming an advocate for women and girls.
Over the past couple of years Melinda has built up a strong brand and an individual presence on Instagram which sings to her values and the causes she champions - keeping her maiden name French in her handle.
Following her most expensive divorce settlement in history from Bezos, MacKenzie has been said to be 'quietly thriving' - having previously been shy of the limelight.
While her decision to sign Bill Gates and Warren Buffett's Giving Pledge was viewed by some as a swipe at Bezos - whose notable lack of charitable giving had attracted criticism - it does appear to be a genuine desire to give back, admitting at the time she had a 'disproportionate' amount of money.
'There's no question in my mind that anyone's personal wealth is the product of a collective effort, and of social structures which present opportunities to some, and obstacles to countless others,' she said.
After donating $1.6 billion to 116 non-profits, universities, community development groups and legal organizations in July last year, she reportedly asked her advisers to help her 'accelerate' her previous year's giving with immediate help to those financially devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and went on to donate a total of $5.7 billion in 2020.
Over the past couple of years Melinda has built up a strong brand and an individual presence on Instagram which sings to her values and the causes she champions
It's believed she asked community leaders to help her identify 512 organizations for seven and eight figure gifts, including food banks, human-service organizations and racial-justice charities. Meanwhile Bezos donated $10billion to launch the Bezos Earth Fund.
While the Gates have no prenup, it appears a lot of the work of dividing up their estate - which includes properties in five states, a private jet, an astonishing art collection and a fleet of luxury cars - has already been done, as their divorce papers repeatedly refer to a 'separation contract' which both have signed. The contract itself has not been made public.
The documents, which were filed by Melinda and obtained by DailyMail.com, came to light after the couple's eldest daughter Jennifer revealed their family has been going through a 'challenging stretch of time'.
The announcement comes less than two weeks after they made their last public appearance, virtually, at a COVID event for healthcare workers.
Melinda did not ask for any spousal support but requested a trial date in April 2022. However it is likely the divorce will be settled without a trial.
The petition states that finances pertaining to the couple's two children are addressed in the separation contract. The document was signed by both Bill and Melinda, as well as their attorneys.
Both Bill and Melinda hired powerhouse law firms to assist in the divorce. Melinda is represented by a team of four New York based attorneys from two separate firms: Cohen Clair Lane Griefer Thorpe & Rottenstreich LLP and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.
In their statement, the Gates - unlike MacKenzie and Bezos - vowed to continue that work together after their split.
Melinda pictured signing copies of her biography The Moment of Life, 'the 2019 edition versus 2021 edition'
The biggest divorce since Bezos: Bill and Melinda Gates will have to divide his $130BILLION fortune including Da Vinci artworks, a fleet of cars, jet, and properties in five states
Bill Gates currently holds the title of fourth-richest person in the world with a net worth of $124billion, per Forbes. But if he were to split his fortune in half with Melinda in their divorce, he would drop to 17.
1. Jeff Bezos - $177B
2. Elon Musk - $151B
3. Bernard Arnault & family - $150B
4. Bill Gates - $124B
5.Mark Zuckerberg - $97B
6. Warren Buffett - $96B
7. Larry Ellison - $93B
8. Larry Page - $91.5B
9. Sergey Brin - $89B
10. Mukesh Ambani - $84.5B
16. Carlos Slim Helu & family - $62.8B
17. Alice Walton - $61.8B
Bill and Melinda Gates' divorce will be the largest division of assets since Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie split in 2019.
The Gates are worth an estimated $130 billion, making them the fourth-richest people in the world, behind Bezos, Elon Musk, and French luxury goods owner Bernard Arnault.
Should their split their fortune in half in their divorce, Bill could drop in rank to around number 17 on the Forbes billionaires' index.
Their wealth includes several impressive real estate holdings, including their main home in Washington state and properties in California, Florida, Wyoming and Massachusetts.
In addition, they have a private jet and an astonishing art collection. He also owns a fleet of fast cars.
Bill owns 1.37 percent of Microsoft's outstanding shares, which are worth more than $26 billion, according to CNBC.
He stepped down from the board of Microsoft in March 2020, but remains as a technology adviser to CEO Satya Nadella.
He also makes investments through his Gates Ventures private office.
In 2015, Melinda established a new organization called Pivotal Ventures, an independent executive office.
The idea was to allow her to pursue ideas that might not fit within the structure of the Gates Foundation.
In 2000, the couple founded The Gates Foundation, dedicated to helping some of the world's poorest people through initiatives such as eradicating polio, reducing the spread of malaria and HIV/Aids, and investing in sanitation and financial systems for those without.
They have poured huge amounts of their own money into the Foundation, making it one of the world's largest philanthropic organizations.
From 1994 through 2018, the couple gave the foundation more than $36billion.
In 2010 they founded The Giving Pledge, alongside Warren Buffett, and promised to give away the majority of their fortune.
Yet, despite their The Giving Pledge and their namesake foundation, the Gates retain plenty of assets which will need to be split between them.
The Gates family home contains a 30-car garage and 20-room main living area
Gates said that he wanted his home to be of the highest craftsmanship, but not ostentatious
Property: A $125million compound on the outskirts of Seattle, seaside mansion in San Diego and ranch getaway in Santa Fe
Prime among the couple's properties is their main family home, known as Xanadu 2.0.
The 66,000-square-foot mansion overlooks Lake Washington in Medina, nine miles out of downtown Seattle - where The Gates Foundation has its headquarters.
Bill purchased the lot in 1988 for $2million, but spent seven years building his dream home - at a cost of $63million.
The divorce of Bill and Melinda Gates marks the second most expensive in the world - coming behind that of Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos.
The Amazon boss and his philanthropist wife, who now uses her maiden name Scott, announced their split in January 2019 after 25 years and four children together.
Hours later the National Enquirer published a bombshell report revealing Bezos' affair with Lauren Sanchez, who herself was married to Hollywood agent Patrick Whitesell.
The Enquirer claimed to have conducted a four-month investigation into Bezos and Sanchez's relationship and said it obtained explicit texts and photos the couple had sent to each other. It was later suggested that Bezos and Scott had timed their divorce announcement to get ahead of the Enquirer report.
Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos announced their split in January 2019 after 25 years and four children together
Their divorce was finalized in April 2019 with Jeff keeping 75 percent of the couple's stock and MacKenzie keeping a four percent stake in Amazon - translating to about 19.7 million shares worth roughly $35billion at the time.
Scott is considered the third wealthiest woman in the world after her net worth surged by $30.3 billion to $61.4billion last year when Amazon shares rocketed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile Bezos also saw a massive windfall as his net worth surged to $201.4billion.
In the wake of the divorce Scott has donated almost $6billion of her wealth to charity.
In a Medium post in December, Scott revealed she had given away $4.1 billion in the previous four months to hundreds of organizations in a bid to help those financially gutted by the COVID-19 pandemic. She had previously donated $1.68billion to 116 nonprofits, universities, community development groups and legal organizations in July 2020.
In March it was revealed she tied the knot with Dan Jewett, a teacher at a school her kids attended in Seattle.
Bezos, who is still dating Sanchez, extended his congratulations in a statement through an Amazon spokesperson, writing: 'Dan is such a great guy, and I am happy and excited for the both of them.'
The construction along the picturesque lake angered some neighbors, The Washington Post reported at the time - so Bill responded with free car washes, and made his construction crew available to help with little projects at nearby homes.
The home is now worth an estimated $125 million.
'I wanted craftsmanship but nothing ostentatious,' Bill wrote in his book, The Road Ahead, which was written from the guest house, while the main house was being constructed.
'I wanted a house that would accommodate sophisticated, changing technology but in an unobtrusive way that made it clear that technology was the servant, not the master.'
The home has an indoor-outdoor pool with an underwater music system and fossil designs on the floor, plus an ancient fossil imprint of a