BILL Gates’ split from his wife of 27 years looks set to become the world’s most expensive divorce as they divide up their eye-watering €130bn fortune.
The super-rich couple first met in 1987, the same year that the Microsoft founder became the world’s youngest billionaire at the age of 31.
In what may save a huge headache for their divorce lawyers, Bill (64) – who was once the world’s richest person – and Melinda (56) appear to be parting ways in an amicable fashion.
In a joint statement that has made headlines around the world, the couple with three children attributed the divorce to the fact that they “no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives”.
Clearly a move was not made lightly. They added: “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage.”
They indicated they will continue to work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which they established in 2000 and has contributed more than €41.6m to causes including Coronavirus treatments. They also famously signed the Giving Pledge in August 2010, a promise to give away at least half their wealth during their lifetime or in their wills.
“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,” the statement said.
“We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue to work together at the foundation… we ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”
When you’re in an elite club of super-rich couples, keeping things amicable is an imperative. The pair reportedly do not have a pre-nuptial agreement but have already done a lot of work dividing up their sizeable estate.
This includes a private jet, houses in five different states, an impressive art collection that includes the €25m Da Vinci Codex and a fleet of luxury cars.
However, the fact that she married him after he made his fortune may be a key factor when it comes to splitting assets.
But they are just one of several super-rich celebrity couples who have hit the headlines after deciding to part ways in recent times. And when you’re in the billionaires club, there’s far more to fight over than who gets custody of the dog and dividing up the wedding china.
Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos announced his split from wife MacKenzie Scott after 25 years of marriage in January 2019.
Again, they made a joint statement where they seemed at pains to point out that they would stay pals. “After a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends,” it read.
Ms Scott received a stake in Amazon worth more than €29bn.
The philanthropist received huge plaudits for donating €5bn to 116 non-profits, universities, community development groups and legal organisations in July 2020. She did not sit on her laurels when it came to moving on either.
Last March saw her marrying a Seattle science teacher named Dan Jewett who taught at the private schools where her children once attended.
Jeff Bezos has been in a relationship for the past two years with TV host and helicopter pilot Lauren Sanchez.
Also listed as one of the most expensive divorces to date was that of Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, who was granted a ‘quickie’ divorce from his first wife Irina in 2007.
Given that the Russian oligarch was worth more than €15bn, his split from the mother of his five children cost more than €1bn.
He transferred at least four luxury homes to his ex, including a €20m estate plus a large sum of cash.
The divorce that really had headline writers salivating was that of Alec Wildenstein and his split from Joceyln Wildenstein, who became known as ‘Catwoman’ for her love of plastic surgery.
American billionaire businessman and art dealer Alec married the former model and New York socialite in 1978. They began messy divorce proceedings in 1997 which lasted until 1999.
Of his €8.32bn fortune, she received €2bn in the divorce settlement and €83m each year for the following 13 years. However, the presiding judge stipulated that she was not allowed to use her settlement funds for more cosmetic surgery – having already splashed out more than €4m on treatments.