WASHINGTON: Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, and his wife Melinda have announced they are ending their marriage after 27 years, throwing into doubt a partnership that has remade modern philanthropy and supported one of the leading private responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The couple revealed the decision in a terse note on their social media accounts on Monday, in which they said the fate of their marriage would not affect the work of their foundation, the world’s largest private charitable organisation.
The pair have ploughed much of their estimated $124bn fortune into the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which seeks to enhance healthcare and reduce poverty around the world.
Working with Warren Buffett, they also promoted the Giving Pledge as a way for wealthy business people to donate more of their wealth during their lifetimes. “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” the couple said in a statement on Monday.The pair said they “will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives”. In a separate statement, the foundation said the couple would “remain co-chairs and trustees” and that “no changes to their roles or the organisation are planned”.
The Gates separation, is likely to have little impact on Microsoft given that Bill left the software group’s board a year ago and has a stake of about 1 per cent.For the past two decades, the couple have run the world’s largest private charitable foundation, which has distributed $55bn since its launch in 2000.
Its endowment, which includes annual donations from Buffett, stands at $49.8bn.The Seattle-based Gates Foundation has established itself as one of the world’s most influential philanthropies, with a focus on fighting poverty, disease and inequality that stretches from sub-Saharan Africa to inner-city America.