After Bill and Melinda Gates announced their split everyone assumed that the billionaires had a prenup. Well, maybe not.
According to court documents, Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, did not sign a prenup before getting hitched in 1994. Now it seems that the couple, who is worth an estimated $129.9 billion, will have to make a lot of difficult decisions when they’re dividing wealth and assets, including their $131.14 million Seattle home and $35.87 million Florida property.
Microsoft – Bill’s bread and butter – went public in 1986, eight years before he and Melinda traded vows. Bill’s shares at the time were worth over $310 million, placing him on the Forbes 400. It wasn’t until 1994 that Bill Gates transformed that wealth into the impressive title of ‘richest man in the world’, but many billionaires and even millionaires keep their safes locked tight from their future spouses with a prenup. Bill was not one of those millionaires.
In a court document filed Monday at King County Superior Court it was revealed that Bill and Melinda never signed a prenuptial agreement, which could mean Bill owes much of his fortune to his soon-to-be ex-wife. Asked why the two were getting a divorce the couple wrote on the court file: “This marriage is irretrievably broken.”
The file also revealed that the couple signed a separation contract, but when they signed is unknown. When asked the couple requested that the court enforce the contract, which outlines how Bill and Melinda want to divide their assets, from real estate properties to personal properties, and even debts. Melinda has not asked for spousal support.
Bill and Melinda Gates “ask the court to dissolve our marriage and find that our marital community ended on the date stated in our separation contract.” As of now a court date is set for 2022, but it is likely the couple will settle things outside of court.
Bill Gates is worth an estimated $129.9 billion and has plenty of properties, investments, and other toys that Melinda might split in half. These include Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Codex Leicester,’ Andrew Wyeth’s ‘Distant Thunder,’ and William Merritt Chase’s ‘The Nursery.” Bill spent hundreds of million of dollars on his collection.
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work our relationship,” Bill and Melinda wrote on Twitter, “we have made the decision to end our marriage.” The split will likely share commonalities with the Jeff Bezos and Mackenzie Scott divorce. How much like it is still unknown, but it’s fairly easy to say that Melinda will take a top spot as one of the world’s richest women.
The couple has been married for over 27 years and has raised three kids together. Bill and Melinda have “built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives.” According to the announcement the two “will continue … work together at the foundation,” as they “share a belief in that mission.” The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation holds more than $51 billion in assets – a pie that would be hard to slice.
The exact monetary value is unknown, but Melinda will likely get a large slice of Bill’s billion-dollar pie. A prenup would likely have only covered what Bill made before marrying Melinda, and his wealth has grown exponentially since then.