Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates Finalize Divorce
The divorce between Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates is now final.
A King County Superior Court judge in Washington state signed the dissolution decree on Monday, ending the 27-year marriage between influential Foundation co-founders Bill and Melinda Gates while leaving details of how the couple divided one of history’s greatest fortunes shrouded in mystery.
Public documents showed billions of dollars in shares were transferred to Ms French Gates’ name following the public announcement in May of their plans to divorce. Forbes now estimates Ms. French Gates’ net worth at $ 3.2 billion, although she may be much higher. The magazine estimates Mr. Gates’ net worth at $ 131 billion.
The separation agreement that determined the division of assets was “not filed with the court,” according to a note scribbled in blue ink on one of the court documents. It’s unclear, for example, who will receive their 66,000-square-foot lakefront estate in suburban Seattle.
The couple’s three children are all over 18, so no custody agreement was necessary. The court document said neither party had requested an official name change, although Ms French Gates has publicly used her last name alongside her married name since their separation.
In contrast, when Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott divorced, a file with the Securities and Exchange Commission detailed how Mr. Bezos would keep three-quarters of the couple’s shares in Amazon, while Ms. Scott would keep the rest, which is came to 4 percent of the business.
The biggest open question is how, or even if, the divorced couple can work together on their huge charity. Mr. Gates and Ms. French Gates insisted that they will continue to work on behalf of the foundation’s shared mission in areas such as global health, poverty reduction and gender equality.
Last month, they announced that they had given an additional $ 15 billion to the foundation, on top of its endowment of $ 50 billion, which already made it, by most measures, the largest charitable foundation private to the world. The Gates Foundation’s chief executive, Mark Suzman, also said the foundation would add new outside directors, a step towards better governance that philanthropy experts have been advocating for years.
At the same time, Mr Suzman said that Mr Gates and Ms French Gates had agreed that if either person found out after two years that they could not work together, Ms French Gates would leave the foundation, receiving funds from Mr. Gates to continue his own charitable efforts.
Ms French Gates signed part of the divorce papers on Friday at the offices of her own organization, Pivotal Ventures, a company focused on gender equality and social progress.
Susan C. Beachy contributed research.
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