The split between Bill and Melinda Gates didn’t exactly come out of nowhere. Melinda Gates had been meeting with divorce lawyers since at least 2019, reports the Wall Street Journal. Although the couple hasn’t publicly said what led to the split, sources tell the paper that Melinda Gates was concerned about her husband’s association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Records reviewed by the Journal showed Gates and her lawyers held numerous calls in October 2019, which just happened to be when the New York Times reported Gates met numerous times with Epstein. The connection between the two billionaires raised plenty of eyebrows in part because Bill Gates started the relationship after Epstein had been convicted of sex crimes. Melinda Gates had already expressed concerns about Epstein years earlier, telling her husband that she was uncomfortable with him in 2013. The Daily Beast had already reported those concerns, claiming Melinda Gates told friends she was uncomfortable around Epstein and didn’t want anything to do with him.
Bill Gates has long tried to minimize his relationship with Epstein. “I met him. I didn’t have any business relationship or friendship with him,” Gates said in a 2019 interview. Bill Gates also acknowledged it was a mistake to meet him although he tried to defend himself slightly by saying it was for a good cause. “I made a mistake in judgment that I thought that those discussions would lead, literally, to billions of dollars going to global health. It turned out that was a bad judgment,” Gates said at a 2019 conference.
Bill and Melinda Gates have been married for 27 years and announced their split on May 3, saying in a joint statement that “we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.” But by the time they made the announcement they were already in discussions about ending their marriage for more than a year. In court documents, Melinda Gates said the couple’s marriage is “irretrievably broken.”