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Bill Gates, the fourth richest man in the world with a fortune of about $130billion, and his wife Melinda are divorcing after 27 years of marriage.
The 65-year-old Microsoft founder and his 56-year-old wife announced the split via Twitter on Monday.
They both posted the same joint statement which read: 'After a great deal of thought and a lot of work, we have made the decision to end our marriage.
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. We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue to work together at the foundation, but 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.'
The couple have three kids; Jennifer, 25, Rory, 21, and Phoebe, 18.
The announcement comes less than two weeks after they made their last public appearance, virtually, at a COVID event for healthcare workers.
Gates was already a billionaire when the pair got married in the early 1990s. He founded Microsoft in 1975 and became the world's youngest billionaire in 1987 at the age of 31. He also met Melinda that year.
They married six years later but he deliberated over it and, according to previous interviews given by Melinda, even made a list of pros and cons for marriage on a whiteboard.
It remains unclear if the couple have a prenuptial agreement to help them navigate dividing their wealth.
The 65-year-old Microsoft founder and his 56-year-old wife announced the split on Twitter. They both posted the same joint statement
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
The pair are pictured during a Zoom appearance on April 19 at One World: Together At Home, a broadcast special to support healthcare workers
The divorce, though one of the most expensive in history, is not the most expensive.
That title goes to Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder who split his $150billion fortune with his wife MacKenzie in 2019 after his affair with Lauren Sanchez was revealed.
Gates co-founded Microsoft in 1975, almost 20 years before he married Melinda. The company made $1million in sales by 1978 and by 1987, he had become the world's youngest ever billionaire. He met Melinda that year. They are pictured in 1998
They, unlike Bezos, are both part of The Giving Pledge - a collection of the world's richest people who have all vowed to devote at least half of their fortunes to charity.
Over the last year, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has focused on the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines around the world.
The pair got married in Hawaii in 1994. Melinda had worked at Microsoft as a project manager in 1987. They had sat next to one another at a business dinner.
After a year of dating, he made a list of the pros and cons of getting married.
'You know, we cared a lot for each other and there were only two possibilities: either, we were going to break up or we were going to get married,' Bill said in a Netflix documentary about his life.
She has playfully told how he made a pros and cons lift of whether or not they should get married on a whiteboard.
In 2019, shortly after their 25th wedding anniversary, Melinda, in a rare interview, told The Sunday Times that Bill struggled with balancing work with family.
'We’ve just gotten to a point in life where Bill and I can both laugh about more things.
'And, believe me, I can remember some days that were so incredibly hard in our marriage where you thought, "Can I do this?" she said.
Bill founded Microsoft in 1975 with Paul Allen. He served as CEO until 2000 then moved into a director role. He stepped down from the board of Microsoft and the board of Berkshire Hathaway in March 2020 to dedicate more of his time to philanthropy.
Before joining Microsoft, Melinda attended the elite Duke University in North Carolina.
She grew up in Texas, the daughter of an aerospace engineer and a housewife. Bill also grew up privileged in Seattle. He dropped out of Harvard to pursue Microsoft in the 1970s. His father was a prominent lawyer and his mother was on the board of the financial holding companies.
Bill Gates 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 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.
'As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends,' the couple wrote in a statement on Twitter. 'If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again.'
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
MacKenzie and Jeff were married from 1993 to 2019 and share four children together. They are all pictured together in 2016
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.'
Jeff Bezos wife should have taken 50% of the company. She deserved it. She was married to him before he became a billionaire. But I can see she is a kind and sweet woman.
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