The split between Bill and Melinda Gates, announced last week, has been in the works for a long time.
Melinda Gates consulted with divorce lawyers roughly two years before she filed for divorce, saying their marriage was “irretrievably broken,” according to people familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The 56-year-old philanthropist has been working with lawyers at several firms since at least 2019 to unwind the marriage of more than 25 years, according to these people and the documents.
Last Monday, the billionaire couple announced they were ending their marriage. In a joint statement posted on Twitter, they said, “we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”
The couple hasn’t said what prompted the split. One source of concern for Melinda Gates was her husband’s dealings with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, according to the people and a former employee of their charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Her concerns about the relationship dated as far back as 2013, the former employee said.
Melinda Gates, a global advocate for women and girls, had told her husband she was uncomfortable with Epstein after the couple met him together in 2013, the former employee of the Gates Foundation said. Bill Gates and some employees of the Gates Foundation continued a relationship with Epstein despite her concerns, this person said.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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