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Melinda Gates began to consider divorcing from Bill Gates in 2019, according to the Wall Street Journal. The paper says a New York Times story on the billionaire’s ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was a catalyst.
The Journal cited “people familiar with the matter” and reviewed documents to report that Melinda Gates was consulting with divorce lawyers for roughly two years because the marriage was “irrevocably broken.”
In 2019, the Times reported that Bill Gates and Jeffrey Epstein began their relationship after Epstein was convicted of sex crimes in 2008, while other high-profile power players affiliated with Epstein, like Bill Clinton, started their association with him before. The Times report said the Microsoft co-founder and convicted sex offender met “many times” and that one one occasion, Gates stayed at Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse “late into the night,” though it also pointed out that Gates previously told the Journal he “didn’t have any business relationship or friendship with” Epstein.
Per the Journal, documents show that Melinda Gates had a number of calls with her advisers following that Times report in 2019.
The Journal also backed up previous reporting from the Daily Beast that said Melinda Gates expressed concern over the Epstein meetings. According to the Journal, her husband continued the meetings despite her concerns.
A representative for the Gates Foundation did not immediately return a request for comment.
The couple announced last week that they will be divorcing after 27 years of marriage.
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” Bill and Melinda Gates said in a joint statement. “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 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.”
Since 2000, the couple has run the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a private charity group that has funded health care research and aimed to reduce global poverty. In 2019, the foundation reported assets of $51 billion.
Bill Gates, who co-founded Microsoft in 1975 alongside Paul Allen, is the fourth richest person in the world, according to Forbes’ billionaire tracker, with a net worth of $130.5 billion. He still owns roughly 1.3% of Microsoft shares, according to NBC News.
Epstein died in jail in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
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