Billionaire power couple Bill & Melinda Gates journey of wealth and philanthropy

Ruhi Gilder
Microsoft Founder Bill Gates and wife Melinda Gates head for divorce after 27 years of marriage. The world’s fourth-richest person Bill Gates has a net worth of $130.5 billion, according to Forbes. Gates, who co-founded Microsoft in the year 1975 with his childhood friend Paul Allen announced the divorce via a joint statement.  

The Gates have three children, Jennifer, 25, Rory, 21, Phoebe, 18. Their daughter, Jennifer, expressed her feelings on Instagram, “It’s been a challenging stretch of time for our whole family. I’m still learning how to best support my own process and emotions”.  
Photo Courtesy: Jennifer Gates / Instagram
Together, the couple runs one of the largest private charitable foundations, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. While their statement maintains that they plan to continue their work at the foundation together, the split of assets remains unknown. According to the state of Washington, where the couple resides, property that was acquired during the marriage belongs to both parties. Selected assets can be labelled as separate property, such as an inheritance. 
Over the course of their marriage in 1994, the couple has accumulated several assets, one the most noteworthy being their mansion on Lake Washington, valued at $130.8 million. Gates an avid art collector allegedly paid $30 million for the original 1885 maritime painting Lost on the Grand BanksAdditionally, Bill Gates is also reportedly the biggest private owner of farmland in USA. He owns around 242,000 acres of land across different states. Gates also founded Cascade Investment, a holding company through which he has interests in real estate, energy and hospitality as well as stakes in public companies.  
Photo Courtesy: Bill Gates / Instagram
From 1995 to 2017, the 65-year-old has held the Forbes title of the richest person in the world every year except from 2010 to 2013. In 2017, he was overtaken by Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos. On Forbes Most Philanthropic Billionaires List, released in January 2021, Bill and Melinda Gates rank 2nd with a total of $29.8 billion in donations through their lifetime. The couples’ foundation, which makes about $5 billion / year in grants, has been active the past year, diving into funding research, treatments, tests and vaccines for Covid-19.  
The Seattle-based foundation was started by the couple in 2000, and is focused on public health, education and climate change. It  ended 2019 with net assets of $43.3 billion, the last full-year financials disclosed on its website. The organisation has made a total of $54.8 billion in grant payments since its inception. The philanthropic Gates couple, along with investor Warren Buffett also created the Giving Pledge. A an open invitation to billionaires to publicly commit to giving away the majority of their wealth to worthy causes. 
Photo Courtesy: The Giving Pledge
The news of the influential couple’s divorce comes as a surprise and is the second divorce among the world’s richest in recent years. In 2019, the world’s richest man, Amazon head honcho, Jeff Bezos and wife MacKenzie Scott also split their financial assets. 
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