Bill and Melinda Gates announced on Monday they were ending their 27-year marriage.
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” they said in a joint statement posted on Twitter. “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 Gates is the co-founder Microsoft and currently ranked the forth richest person in the world.
For decades, Mr. and Ms. Gates have been powerful forces on the world stage, their vast charitable contributions affording them access to the highest levels of government, business and the nonprofit sector.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with an endowment of some $50 billion, has had immense influence in fields like global health and early-childhood education, and has made great strides in reducing deaths caused by malaria and other infectious diseases. Over the past year, the couple have been especially visible, regularly commenting on the worldwide fight against Covid-19 as their foundation spent more than $1 billion to combat the pandemic.
The announcement raises questions about the fate of their fortune. The couple helped create the Giving Pledge, but much of his Microsoft money has not yet been donated.
The foundation said in a statement that Mr. and Ms. Gates would remain co-chairs and trustees and that no changes were expected at the organization.
Even so, the divorce will create new questions about the fate of the Gates fortune, much of which has not yet been donated to the Gates Foundation. Mr. Gates, 65, who co-founded Microsoft, is one of the richest people in the world, worth an estimated $124 billion, according to Forbes. The Gateses have been married for 27 years and have three children, ages 18 to 25.
“The Gates Foundation is the most important and influential philanthropic entity in the world today,” said Rob Reich, a professor of political science at Stanford University. “The divorce may have huge repercussions for the foundation and for its work across the globe.”