Melinda Gates’ lawyer reveals what he advises billionaires and celebrities not to do when settling a divorce

robert stephan cohen
Cohen sat down with Insider for an interview from his midtown Manhattan office on May 25, 2021.

  • Melinda Gates’ divorce lawyer told Insider the spouses of very wealthy people sometimes settle for much less than they deserve.
  • Robert Stephan Cohen said he’d try to talk a client out of a deal where they’re giving up too much.
  • To resolve bitter financial disputes, he often proposes setting up trusts for a couple’s children.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As Bill and Melinda Gates divide their enormous and complex estate, Melinda has the backing of a divorce lawyer who has decades of experience advising high-net-worth and celebrity clients.

Her attorney, Robert Stephan Cohen, recently sat down with Insider for an exclusive interview, speaking broadly about the complexities of a billionaire’s divorce and how America’s elite divide their astronomical wealth when their marriages crumble.

Occasionally, Cohen said the spouses of very wealthy people don’t ask for as much money as they could and instead settle for much less. He added that if he thinks a client is about to do a deal he thinks is “egregiously bad,” he’ll advise them to not to take it.

“I might push them a little bit and try to get them to see the other side of it,” he said. “Remember: for the unmoneyed spouse, it’s likely to be the largest business deal that they’ll ever do in their life. And they really need to think about it, because they may not have a second opportunity.”

Some clients will find a happy medium between the extremes of accepting too little or demanding too much of their spouse, and those are the cases Cohen says he resolves fairly easily out of court.

If Cohen were to represent the wife of a man who’s worth $500 million, he said it wouldn’t be unusual for that client to ask him to win a settlement closer to $100 million or $115 million, rather than a full $250 million. In such a case, Cohen said he could simply call up the lawyer representing the hypothetical husband – it’s a small number of elite divorce lawyers handling these cases, and they all know each other.

“You’ll never get that deal again,” Cohen said. “Because if we go to court and we have to fight about that, you know what the end result is going to be, because I know what the end result is going to be, and you’re a smart guy.”

Though the famed Manhattan lawyer has a long reputation for being “mean” and a “killer,” Cohen said people would be surprised by how fair he tries to be. He said he often has to remind his clients that what they consider fair may be very different from what their spouse considers fair.

“One of my jobs is not only to do well for my client, but I think one of my jobs is also to make it possible that both parties at the end of the day feel reasonably good about the resolution,” he said. “Especially if there are children involved.”

Melinda French Gates
Melinda French Gates speaks onstage at a February 2019 event.

Cohen considers himself something of an expert at determining what’s a square deal: He’s known for winning the first major equitable-distribution case in New York in 1985, Karp v. Karp, after the state’s divorce laws required marital assets to be split “equitably” – which means the assets must be distributed fairly, but not necessarily 50/50.

“To be candid, I’d like my client to come out a little better than ‘reasonably fair,’ but nevertheless, I want both people to walk away and say, ‘I did okay,'” Cohen said.

But he acknowledged that he has to get “clever” at times when fairness doesn’t cut it. When neither side can agree on the amount of money that should be paid to or received by a given spouse, Cohen often will propose taking that sum and creating a trust for the couple’s children.

“You’re doing something you’re likely to do anyway, which is leave money to your kids,” he said. “It’s a way to sort of get around the delta that we sometimes run into.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Chris Rock reveals a key piece of advice he got from his divorce attorney, who now represents Melinda Gates

chris rock
Chris Rock spoke to Insider in an interview about his former divorce lawyer, who is now representing Melinda Gates.

  • Chris Rock opened up about his experience with famed divorce lawyer Robert Stephan Cohen.
  • Cohen is currently representing Melinda Gates, who could land the largest-ever divorce settlement.
  • Rock said Cohen once told him the bitterest divorce disputes only amount to a fraction of what’s at stake.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In the worst moments of Chris Rock’s famously bitter 2016 divorce, the comedian said there was one piece of wisdom his lawyer shared that helped him get through the two-year legal battle.

That attorney, Robert Stephan Cohen, made headlines in recent weeks after court filings revealed he’s representing Melinda Gates in her divorce from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

Rock told Insider in an interview that Cohen was a capable, intelligent, and realistic lawyer who helped the comedian see the bigger picture: That most of his divorce had already been resolved, and the most contentious parts composed a tiny fraction of what was at stake.

“Put it this way. People get divorced. People fight. Things take sometimes years. At the end of the day, you’re only talking 4%, one way or the other,” Rock said. “[Cohen] said that to me. I was like, ‘Oh, okay.’ And that put it in perspective.”

Cohen told Insider his 4% rule holds up in most divorces he handles. He’s one of the most prominent divorce lawyers in the country, and has represented a number of other high-profile clients, including former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the actors Uma Thurman and James Gandolfini, and both of Donald Trump’s ex-wives, Ivana Trump and Marla Maples.

“At the end of the day, the differences are usually a small percentage. Both with respect to money, and with respect to custody issues,” he said.

robert stephan cohen
Cohen sat down with Insider for an interview from his midtown Manhattan office on May 25, 2021.

Rock’s turbulent divorce was highly publicized, and he’s since opened up about his flaws as a husband – in particular, his numerous infidelities.

But he said Cohen remained cool-headed throughout the process, particularly when it came to disputes over child custody.

“I had some issues,” Rock said. “It’s like, when you’re a guy, some people don’t even think you want to see your kids. [Cohen] was very understanding about all of that.”

“He got me through a very tough time in my life,” Rock added.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield and Away’s Jen Rubio just had their first child together. Here are 13 other power couples who rule the tech world.

Evan Spiegel Miranda Kerr
Snap CEO Evan Spiegel and wife Miranda Kerr.

  • Slack’s Stewart Butterfield and Away’s Jen Rubio just had their first child together.
  • They’re among over a dozen other leaders in the tech industry in relationships with powerful people.
  • Some, like Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott, and Bill and Melinda Gates, have recently split up.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As the singer Grimes, Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s girlfriend, might say, we appreciate power.

While some tech leaders, like Mark Zuckerberg, have been with their partners since college, notable figures in the tech sector have gravitated toward partners with just as much – or more! – power and pull in their industries.

Some are becoming new parents: This month, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield and Jen Rubio, the CEO of luggage startup Away, announced the birth of their first child together. The couple got engaged in May 2019, but postponed a planned wedding in Peru after the pandemic hit.

Others, sadly, have broken up: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife, now MacKenzie Scott, announced in early 2019 that they were getting a divorce. And one of the most famous power couples in the world, Bill and Melinda Gates, are now headed for divorce as well.

Still, there are 14 other notable couples that hail from Silicon Valley who are still going strong.

Jen Rubio and Stewart Butterfield

Who they are: Rubio is the CEO of luggage startup Away, and Butterfield in the cofounder and CEO of work messaging platform Slack.

Their backstory: The relationship between Rubio and Butterfield initially flew under the radar, but it came under the spotlight in May 2019 when Butterfield jokingly proposed to Rubio on Twitter. Butterfield’s Twitter proposal followed news that Away had landed a $1.4 billion valuation, and the Slack CEO joked he wasn’t “just a goldigger.”

Butterfield and Rubio both acknowledged the proposal was a joke after a few hours. They got engaged for real that Memorial Day and announced the birth of their first child together, Oliver, in May 2021.

Emily Weiss and Will Gaybrick

So, a week ago, we got engaged. (!) Even during the wildest most uncertain times, there are silver linings. ❤️

A post shared by Emily Weiss (@emilyweiss) on Mar 18, 2020 at 10:25pm PDT

Who they are: Weiss is the cofounder and CEO of online makeup company Glossier. Gaybrick is the chief product officer at payments platform Stripe. Glossier is valued at more than $1 billion, while Stripe is the most valuable US startup with a valuation of $95 billion

Their backstory: Not a whole lot about their relationship has been shared publicly. The couple made their relationship public in an Instagram post from New Years Day of 2019, then announced their engagement in a post in March 2020

“Even during the wildest most uncertain times, there are silver linings,” Weiss wrote in the caption for the Instagram photo. Their engagement came just as the World Health Organization classified the coronavirus as a “pandemic.”

Evan Spiegel and Miranda Kerr

evan spiegel miranda kerr

Who they are: Spiegel is the cofounder and CEO of Snap Inc., Snapchat’s parent company. Kerr was, at one time, one of the highest-earning models in the world, and is currently the founder of wellness company KORA Organics.

Their backstory: The couple started dating in 2015, and got married in May 2017. They have one son, Hart, who was born in May 2018, and another son, Myles, who was born in October 2019. Kerr also has a son, Flynn, from her previous relationship with actor Orlando Bloom.

Sergey Brin and Nicole Shanahan

sergey brin nicole shanahan

Who they are: Brin is the cofounder of Google. Shanahan is the founder of law-tech company ClearAccessIP and the Bia-Echo Foundation.

Their backstory: The couple has been linked since 2015, when they were seen together at the star-studded wedding for a dating app CEO in Jamaica. The couple reportedly have a baby girl together who was born in late 2018, although they’ve kept information about their child under wraps. Brin has two other children from his previous marriage to 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki.

It was revealed in October 2019 that Brin and Shanahan have been married since 2018, but there were no other details made public about the wedding.

Karlie Kloss and Joshua Kushner

josh kushner karlie kloss

Who they are: Kushner is the founder of venture capital firm Thrive Capital and is the cofounder of health insurance startup Oscar Health. Kloss is a prominent model who runs coding camps for young girls called Kode with Klossy.

Their backstory: Kloss and Kushner reportedly started dating in 2012. The couple got married in October 2018 in a small ceremony, then got married again in June 2019 on a ranch in Wyoming. In March, the couple announced the birth of their first child, Levi. 

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan

Who they are: Zuckerberg is the CEO and cofounder of Facebook. Chan is a former pediatrician. Together, the couple launched the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a philanthropy focused on science and education.

Their backstory: Zuckerberg and Chan are college sweethearts — they met in 2003 while they were students at Harvard University. In May 2012, the day after Facebook went public, they got married in a surprise ceremony. The couple has two daughters together, Max and August, who were born in 2015 and 2017.

Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian

Serena Williams. right, and husband Alexis Ohanian

Who they are: Ohanian is the cofounder of Reddit, and later cofounded the VC firm Initialized Capital. Williams is one of the best tennis players in the world, and ranks third on the all-time list of most winning players with 39 major tournament titles. In 2014, Williams launched her own investment firm, Serena Ventures, to invest in companies like Billie, Tonal, and Daily Harvest.

Their backstory: The couple met in May 2015 in Rome, and started dating that same year. They got engaged at the end of 2016 at the same place in Rome where they had first met. Williams gave birth to the couple’s daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, in 2017, and they got married later that year.

Marissa Mayer and Zachary Bogue

marissa mayer zach bogue

Who they are: Mayer is the former CEO of Yahoo, and the cofounder of software company Sunshine. Prior to Yahoo, she was Google’s 20th employee. Bogue is a cofounder and managing partner at the investment firm DCVC.

Their backstory: The couple met through a mutual friend in 2007, and got married two years later. Mayer announced her first pregnancy in 2012 on the same day she was publicly named Yahoo’s CEO. She gave birth to identical twin girls in 2015.

Marc Benioff and Lynne Benioff

marc benioff lynne benioff

Who they are: Marc Benioff is the founder and CEO of enterprise cloud company Salesforce. Lynne Benioff is a notable philanthropist who serves on the board of the nonprofit ONE, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, the Benioff Ocean Initiative, and others.

Their backstory: The Benioffs were married in 2006, although details of their Hawaiian wedding were kept under wraps. In 2018, the couple bought Time Magazine together for $190 million.

Dave Morin and Brit Morin

dave morin brit morin

Who they are: David Morin helped to create Facebook Platform and Facebook Connect, and cofounded Path, a now-defunct photo-based platform. He’s currently an investor with VC firm Offline Ventures. Brit Morin is the founder of Brit + Co., a popular lifestyle media company for millennial women.

Their backstory: The pair first met when they both were working at Apple years ago. They got engaged in 2011 after an elaborate proposal set in the Maldives, and got married the following year.

Kevin Hartz and Julia Hartz

Julia and Keith Hartz

Who they are: Kevin Hartz and Julia Hartz cofounded the ticketing company Eventbrite in 2006. He is currently a chairman at the company, while she serves as CEO.

Their backstory: The couple met back in 2003 at a mutual friend’s wedding. In a 2012 interview with Business Insider, Julia Hartz said that “we knew we wanted to start a company together before we lived together.” The pair got married in 2006, and now have two children.

Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg

Barry Diller Diane Von Furstenberg

Who they are: Diller founded the Internet company IAC in 1995, and now serves as a chairman for that company and for Expedia. Furstenberg is a lauded fashion designer who first rose to fame after marrying into a royal German family.

Their backstory: The couple got married in 2001, but have had an on-and-off relationship and friendship that’s spanned more than 40 years. They first met in the 1970s at a party Diller was hosting.

Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston

paul graham jessica livingston y combinator

Who they are: Graham and Livingston helped found Y Combinator, a wildly successful startup accelerator program that’s produced companies like Dropbox, Airbnb, and Stripe.

Their backstory: The pair started Y Combinator in 2005 while they were already dating. They got married in 2008, and now have two sons.

Diane Greene and Mendel Rosenblum

Diane Greene
Diane Greene, CEO of the Google Cloud Platform.

Who they are: Greene and Rosenblum both helped found the cloud computing software company VMware in 1998. They also cofounded the cloud startup Bebop, which Google acquired in 2015. Greene was put in charge of Google’s cloud computing unit, and later sat on Alphabet’s board of directors. Greene is now chairman of the MIT Corporation, which is Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s board of trustees.

Their backstory: The couple met while attending the University of California, Berkeley, when Rosenblum gave Greene a ride on his motorcycle. They have two children together.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Bill Gates reportedly transferred another $850 million in shares to Melinda, taking total transfers since their divorce to nearly $4 billion

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Bill and Melinda Gates are divorcing after 27 years of marriage.

  • Bill Gates transferred $850 million in shares to Melinda French Gates last week, the Wall Street Journal reported.
  • The reported transfer of shares in the equipment manufacturer Deere equates to around 7% of Gates’ stake in the company.
  • French Gates has now received nearly $4 billion worth of stock from Gates since their divorce announcement.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Bill Gates has transferred $850 million more in shares to Melinda French Gates amid the couple’s divorce, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

The Microsoft co-founder transferred 2.25 million shares of equipment manufacturer Deere, brand name John Deere, to French Gates through his investment firm, Cascade Investment LLC, on Thursday, according to a securities filing seen by the Journal.

The total value of publicly disclosed transfers to French Gates now adds up to nearly $4 billion worth of stock since the pair announced their split, after 27 years of marriage, on May 3.

The reported Deere transfer equates to around 7% of Gates’s stake in the company.

Gates and Cascade Investment still owned nearly 29.3 million shares – 9.3% of the company – after the $850 million transfer to French Gates, the security filings said, per the Journal.

Cascade Investment didn’t immediately reply to Insider’s request for comment. The holding company also declined to comment beyond the filings to the Journal.

Insider reported on May 7 that three stocks worth a combined $3 billion were transferred to French Gates after the couple’s divorce announcement. These stocks included 2.9 million shares of automotive retailer AutoNation, 14.1 million shares of Canadian National Railway, and 293.5 million shares of media company Grupo Televisa.

Other stocks that French Gates could receive from Cascade Investment include Republic Services and Ecolab, which are heavily owned positions at the holding company.

The couple’s net worth is around $130.5 billion, according to Forbes.

The news of the Deere transfers comes two days after The New York Times reported that Gates pursued women at Microsoft while he was married to French Gates.

Read the original article on Business Insider

‘Gray divorce’ – getting divorced later in life – is on the rise. Here’s how an attorney says you should handle separation when you’re older.

Couple talking on couch older man woman divorce unhappy at home
“Gray divorce,” also known as “silver splitter” or “diamond divorce,” refers to the increasing trend of late-in-life divorces.

  • Nicole Sodoma is the founder of a family and separation law firm in Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • She says ‘gray divorce’ may be caused by factors like longer life expectancy and financial independence.
  • Older couples should consider division of retirement benefits and marital estates in the separation process.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

“Gray divorce,” also known as “silver splitter” or “diamond divorce,” is a term used to refer to the increasing trend of late-in-life divorces. This term first became mainstream in 2004, when AARP published a study on divorce at “midlife and beyond,” and is generally used to describe adults aged 50 or older who are going through a separation.

In 2015, every 10 out of 1,000 couples aged 50 and over got divorced, which was double what their divorce rate had been in 1990. And for those over 65, the increase was even higher – it had roughly tripled in 25 years. In fact, while the overall rate of divorce has continually declined since then, the divorce rate of people over 50 is increasing.

Statistically, gray divorce is and continues to be on the rise, and not just in the United States. Canada, Japan, Australia, India, and the United Kingdom have reported increases in the last decade as well. While in recent years the discussion has become more prevalent online, this is a conversation that many divorce attorneys have grown familiar with for well over two decades.

The rise of gray divorce can potentially be attributed to a variety of things: people are living longer, both spouses are working and are therefore becoming more financially independent, and the stigma associated with divorce has shifted significantly. If you’re going through a separation later in life, here’s what you need to know.

The differences between going through a gray divorce and getting divorced when you’re younger

There may be some unique issues that you’ll need to address in addition to the standard concerns of a divorce at any age, such as equitable distribution and alimony. Some problems associated with “gray divorce” include division of retirement benefits, confusion over beneficiaries, more complicated marital estates to divide up, health insurance and Medicare benefits, healthcare expenses overall, and potentially more than one support obligation. Additionally, a financially dependent spouse may feel they need more support given the reduced likelihood of starting a career late in life, and a financially supporting spouse may be worried about their ability to keep up support payments as they slow down or retire.

The need for retirement benefits becomes more critical when you divorce later in life because people have less time to “make up” any losses they may face pursuant to a divorce. Understanding what benefits are available, and how they can be distributed, is paramount as you plan for a separate future.

For example, a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO, is one mechanism by which certain retirement plans can be divided. QDROs are often, but not always, necessary depending on the type of retirement plan being split. While you could expect QDROs to be seen in any divorce, it’s much more likely in gray divorces, where retirement accounts tend to be more significant.

For many gray divorces, custody is often not relevant to the discussion because the parties’ children are over the age of 18. However, there may still be issues to address to avoid involving adult children and grandchildren.

Adult children can get dragged into late-in-life divorces and be asked to side with one parent or the other, and that can hurt the family unit (which is often exactly the reason why unhappy couples wait to split until after their children have grown up). There are various ways individuals can address these concerns, including estate planning and postnuptial agreements, which can all help lay out future expectations not just for the individual, but for their family.

Postnuptial agreements are signed after the date of marriage instead of before, and can address issues such as debt, inheritances, and any other property the couple owns – such as a house – in the event of a separation. Often, couples who feel their marriage is on shaky ground utilize postnuptial agreements because they can help remove some of the difficult conversations about finances so that the couple can refocus their energy on their relationship.

Your estate plan generally includes a will, medical and financial powers of attorney, and an advanced care directive, which all work together to legally protect your wishes for your estate and your family after your passing.

Looking forward, you’ll also need to consider new partnerships, should you decide to get married again. Couples will need to address the impact of divorce on their children from prior relationships as well as future relationships. For example, you may need to consider how the marital estate could be impacted or challenged if you remarry – any effects on retirement, social security and pensions, and estate planning documents will need to be updated and maintained. Maybe rather than a postnuptial agreement, a prenuptial or premarital agreement could best serve a family’s future interests.

A prenuptial agreement is a legal document signed by both individuals before they are married. Much like postnuptial agreements, prenups can address a variety of topics including, but not limited to, who gets what in the event of a split and any stipulations in regards to receiving payment of alimony.

How to move forward

For those going through a divorce later in life, be sure to create a strong foundation and clear expectations about what you want your next chapter to look like. Identify a trustworthy and knowledgeable divorce attorney, estate planning attorney, and financial advisor. Use litigation as a last resort, and consider an alternative dispute resolution method, such as mediation, which can usually keep costs lower, take less time, and be less stressful for all parties involved.

Nicole H. Sodoma is the founder and managing principal of Sodoma Law, based in Charlotte, NC with additional locations in Union County, NC and York County, SC.

This story was originally published on Insider February 10, 2020.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Bill and Melinda Gates are getting divorced. Here’s a look inside their 27-year marriage, from meeting at work, to having 3 kids, to spending $45 billion on philanthropy.

Bill and Melinda Gates
Bill and Melinda gates are splitting up, the Microsoft co-founder announced on Monday.

Bill and Melinda Gates are getting divorced.

The billionaire Microsoft founder announced his plans to separate with his wife of 27 years on Monday.

“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” Bill Gates said in a tweet. “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.”

Bill and Melinda Gates have been married since 1994, raised three kids, are worth $130.5 billion, and run a namesake philanthropic enterprise boasting a $49.8 billion endowment.

Here’s a look at the marriage between Bill and Melinda:

Bill and Melinda first met in 1987, when she joined Microsoft as a product manager.

bill melinda

Bill asked her if she could go out “two weeks from tonight” — to which Melinda replied, “Two weeks from tonight? I have no idea what I’m doing two weeks from tonight.’ And I said, ‘You’re not spontaneous enough for me.”

Source: Business Insider

Melinda gave Bill her number and told him to call her closer to the day he had in mind.

Bill Gates Melinda

Source: Business Insider

Instead, he called her up later that night with a wry question: “Is this spontaneous enough for you?” Turns out, it was.

Melinda French Gates

Source: Business Insider

Melinda and Bill dated for seven years before they wed. Melinda told Fortune her mom didn’t think that seeing the CEO was a good idea in the beginning.

Bill Gates Melinda

Source: Business Insider, Fortune

But the couple didn’t listen. Business Insider’s Tanza Loudenback reported they “kept a low profile at work and asked colleagues and family members to respect their privacy.”

Bill Gates Melinda

Source: Business InsiderSeattle Times, Business Insider

“When I look back, Bill was the same kind of guy I was hanging out with in college,” Melinda told Fortune. “I had a lot of respect for them, and they had respect for me.”

Bill Gates Melinda

Source: Business InsiderFortune

“I was definitely attracted to his brilliant mind, but beyond that, his curiosity,” she told Fortune. “And he has a huge sense of fun. I love that wry side of him.”

Bill Gates Melinda

Source: Business InsiderFortune

After they were engaged, Bill and Melinda traveled to Africa in late 1993. During the trip, they encountered people in extreme poverty.

Bill Gates Melinda

Source: TEDBusiness Insider

On a walk on a beach in Zanzibar, Melinda told TED in an interview, the couple “started to talk about” how they might use their fortune to help others.

zanzibar beach

Source: TEDBusiness Insider

That’s when the idea that would ultimately become the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation began to take root.

Melinda Gates

Source: Gates Notes

“It’s not fair that we have so much wealth when billions of others have so little,” Melinda wrote, in one of the couples’ annual letters.

Gates Foundation co-chair Melinda Gates
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair Melinda Gates.

Source: Gates Notes

The couple married in 1994 in what was then Manele Bay Hotel in Hawaii. They tied the knot by the “par-3 12th hole” on the property’s golf course, according to Forbes. The event reportedly cost $1 million.

Bill Gates Melinda wedding

Source: Business Insider, EasyWeddings.com, Forbes, People magazine, Business Insider

To keep the wedding private, Bill booked all the rooms in the hotel, along with all of the helicopters on the island of Maui to “prevent unwanted visitors from flying over,” Forbes reported.

Bill Gates Melinda wedding

Source: Business InsiderEasyWeddings.comForbes

Bill’s parents gifted the newlyweds with a sculpture of two birds, sitting side-by-side and staring at the horizon. “It’s still in front of our house,” Melinda wrote in the couples’ 2018 annual letter. “I think of it all the time, because fundamentally we’re looking in the same direction.”

two birds love winter

Source: Gates Notes

The next year, the couple’s lavish home – nicknamed “Xanadu 2.0” – was completed in Medina, Washington. The mansion’s estimated worth was $124 million in 2016.

Bill Gates House Property

Source: Business InsiderThe Economic Times

The couple has raised two daughters and a son – and didn’t let any of them own a cellphone until they were 14, according to The Mirror.

Bill Gates Melinda

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider, The Mirror

Bill told Rolling Stone the children were raised Catholic. “We’ve raised our kids in a religious way,” he said. “They’ve gone to the Catholic church that Melinda goes to and I participate in.”

Bill Gates Melinda

Source: Rolling Stone

Bill and Melinda would read books from a range of genres to their kids as they grew up, from “Guess How Much I Love You” to “Fahrenheit 451.”

Bill Gates Melinda

Source: Business Insider

Gates has said his wife is a driving force when it comes to bringing the family together. “Melinda is very creative about helping me find chances to spend time with the kids,” Gates wrote in a 2017 Reddit AMA. “Even just driving them to school is a great time to talk to them.”

bill gates

Source: Reddit

Each of the Gates’ kids will inherit about $10 million of their parents’ $98.1 billion fortune, while much of the rest will go to charitable causes.

Bill Gates Jennifer Gates

Source: Business InsiderTED, Bankrate.com

“We want to strike a balance where they have the freedom to do anything but not a lot of money showered on them so they could go out and do nothing,” Bill told TED.

Bill Gates Melinda

Source: Business InsiderTED, Bankrate.com

The Gates also support their kids in other ways. The couple spent $37 million purchasing a string of Wellington, Florida properties in 2016. The reason? Their daughter Jennifer is a nationally ranked show jumper, and the Florida town is the equestrian capital of the US.

Jennifer Gates

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider, Business Insider

Melinda has said her relationship with her husband has changed over time. “We’ve had to change to really be coequals,” she said. “It’s not something that immediately happens overnight, but we’re both committed to it.”

Bill Gates Melinda

Source: Business InsiderFortune

Melinda said the couple still did the dishes together every night to keep the partnership equal.

bill and melinda gates

Source: Business Insider

According to Melinda, Bill was used to being in charge from his Microsoft days when they first started the foundation.

Bill and Melinda Gates
Melinda and Bill Gates.

Source: Gates Notes

But these days, Bill and Melinda work as partners at the foundation. They both received Presidential Medals of Freedom in 2016 from President Barack Obama for their efforts.

Melinda Bill Gates

Source: Business Insider, The White House

They work to make sure their schedules are synchronized, complimentary, and balanced. “Melinda and I look over our schedules a lot to make sure we are balancing things well,” Gates wrote in a 2018 Reddit AMA.

Bill Gates

Source: Reddit

In response to a question about how the couple handles arguments, Melinda jokingly wrote “we never disagree” in the Gates’ 2018 annual letter.

Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, Bill Gates Sr., Mimi Gates

Source: Gates Notes

“Our occasional disagreements these days are over tactics. Because I’ve been a public figure longer, and because I’m a man, some people assume I am making the big decisions. That’s never been the case,” Bill wrote in the Gates Foundation’s annual letter for 2018.

Bill and Melinda Gates TED

Source: Gates Notes

Melinda added that the couple avoids serious disagreements by sharing fundamental values, trust, and a sense of open-mindedness.

Bill and Melinda Gates
Melinda and Bill Gates.

Source: Gates Notes

Warren Buffett, who is close with the couple, told Fortune that Bill was “smart as hell, obviously,” but that “in terms of seeing the whole picture,” Melinda was smarter.

Bill Gates Melinda Warren Buffett

Source: Fortune, Business Insider

In a Reddit AMA, Gates disclosed that his wife and Buffett were his two favorite celebrities…

Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett speaks to the media with Bill and Melinda Gates June 26, 2006 at a news conference where Buffett spoke about his financial gift to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in New York City.

Source: Reddit

… followed by Bono and Jimmy Carter. He added that Nelson Mandela was the most impressive political leader he’s ever met.

bono munich security conference 2017
Musician Bono from U2 reacts at the opening of the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 17, 2017. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Source: Reddit

When it comes to their working partnership, Bill wrote that the perception that Melinda is “the heart” of the organization is a bit of a stereotype, in the 2018 annual letter.

Bill Gates Melinda

Source: Gates Notes

“Just as she knows I’m more emotional than people realize, I know she’s more analytical than people realize. When I get really enthusiastic about something, I count on her to make sure I’m being realistic.”

Bill Gates Melinda

Source: Gates Notes

“Melinda and I believe that everyone deserves the chance for a healthy and productive life – and so with the help of our amazing partners, we are working to find innovative ways to help people in need all over the world,” Bill wrote during one of his Reddit AMAs.

Bill Gates Melinda

Source: Reddit

Bill announced on May 3 the couple made the decision to end their 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 Gates said in a tweet. “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.”

Source: Twitter

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