Wealth and philanthropy of Bill and Melinda Gates

SEATTLE (REUTERS) – Bill and Melinda Gates’ divorce will entail complex decisions about how to handle theirwealth after 27 years of marriage.

Here are details about their wealth and the couple’s philanthropic activities.

Bill Gates

Bill Gates is the world’s fourth-richest person with a net worth of US$130.5 billion (S$174 billion), according to Forbes.

Mr Gates dropped out of Harvard University to co-found technology giant Microsoft with school friend Paul Allen in 1975.

Mr Gates owned 49 per cent of Microsoft at its initial public offering in 1986, which made him an instant multi-millionaire.

With Microsoft’s explosive growth, he soon became the world’s richest person.

He has since lost that title, partly by donating money to philanthropic causes. He was also overtaken due to growth at other companies.

Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk and Louis Vuitton boss Bernard Arnault and his family take the three top spots on the Forbes wealth list.

Gates Foundation

The couple established the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000.

It is one of the world’s largest charitable organisations, with a focus on public health, education and climate change.

Its grants included some US$1.75 billion to vaccine initiatives, diagnostics and research during the coronavirus pandemic.

The foundation ended 2019 with net assets of US$43.3 billion, the last full-year financials disclosed on its website.

The foundation spent US$5 billion in 2019 on programmes in the United States and around the world, excluding management costs.

From 1994 through 2018, Bill and Melinda Gates gave the foundation more than US$36 billion, according to the foundation’s website.

Warren Buffett has donated more than US$29 billion of his fortune to the Gates Foundation since 2006, according to filings.

Division of assets

The couple, who have three children, have a custom mansion with a 2020 assessed value of US$130.8 million, according to the King County Department of Assessments, on Lake Washington, which lies between Seattle and its eastside suburbs including Redmond, where Microsoft is headquartered.

The financial details of their split remain unclear.

They are seeking division of joint assets, according to a separation agreement they have reached, filed in King County Superior Court.

As one of the few US states with so-called “community property” laws, Washington presumes that most property acquired over the course of a marriage belongs jointly to the spouses and is divided equally in a divorce.

The spouses can also agree that certain assets are separate property, meaning they belong to one of them.

Inheritances often fall in this category.