Melinda Gates, the estranged wife of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, reportedly began consulting divorce lawyers in 2019, around the time when reports of multiple meetings between convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and her husband emerged.
TheWall Street Journal said, citing sources, that one of the reasons behind the split of the multimillionaire philanthropic couple is Mr Gates dealing with Epstein, who died by suicide in prison in 2019.
While the couple, in a joint statement on 3 May, announced their decision to end 27 years of married life, neither of them have so far revealed the reason behind the split.
According to WSJ, Ms Gates said that her union with her husband was “irretrievably broken” and she had been working with lawyers from different firms since 2019 to prepare for divorce.
Her calls with the lawyers were scheduled around the same time the New York Times published a detailed report about her soon-to-be ex-husband’s multiple meetings with Epstein three years after he was convicted of soliciting underage girls in 2008. According to the NYT, Mr Gates met Epstein at least thrice at his palatial Manhattan townhouse since 2011.
Ms Gates who had met Epstein alongside her husband in 2013, had at the time raised her concerns to Mr Gates about the relationship between the two men, reported the Daily Beast.
Calling it an “error in judgement”, Ms Bridgitt Arnold, a spokesperson for Mr Gates had told NYT that the two had met to discuss philanthropy work and that Mr Gates regrets ever meeting with Epstein.
When WSJ reached for comment to a spokeswoman for Mr Gates, she said that he stood by his previous statement and declined to comment further.
By 2020, the Gates couple were already discussing the division of their vast wealth and the legal teams on both sides were working with a mediator for separation, reported the paper.
According to the divorce filing, the couple has agreed to divide their fortunes estimated at $130 billion. Last week, Mr Gates’s investment firm transferred nearly $2.4 billion worth of public company shares to Ms Gates.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies