‘It’s been a challenging year’: Jennifer Gates reflects on parent’s divorce in Vogue wedding interview

Tech billionaire’s daughter also described how she pulled off a lavish wedding during Covid

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Tuesday 19 October 2021 01:00
Bill Gates gets flustered when quizzed over relationship with Epstein
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The wedding of Jennifer Gates, daughter of Microsoft billionaires and philanthropists Bill and Melinda French Gates, would have been closely watched even if her parents weren’t two of the most famous and wealthy people on the planet.

The nuptials, to Egyptian equestrian athlete Nayel Nassar, were rumoured to cost at least $2 million, and included the construction of massive, greenhouse-like structures on the $16 million estate in Westchester County, New York. Coldplay was scheduled to perform, according to The Cut.

But of course, Jennifer Gates is a Gates, which means interest was high for a variety of reasons when the pair tied the knot on Saturday. The elder Gates, who divorced this spring, were spotted for the first time together in public the day before the wedding, and reportedly walked Jennifer Gates, herself a notable equestrian and medical student, down the aisle.

“It’s been a challenging year, both collectively with the pandemic and for our families going through transitions,” Jennifer told Vogue in a spread about the wedding. “But our love for one another has been a constant. Being able to celebrate our wedding with our closest friends and family was a dream come true.”

The wedding, which had an estimated 300 guests, required all attendees to be fully vaccinated and tested for coronavirus.

“We feel incredibly fortunate to be able to gather with our loved ones safely,” she added in the Vogue interview. “We know others aren’t as lucky, especially as the pandemic continues to devastate communities in the United States and around the world.”

A judge finalised Bill and Melinda French Gates’s divorce in August 2021 after 27 years of marriage, putting the future of the former couple’s more than $150 billion fortune, and $50 billion charitable foundation, into question.

According to court documents, the couple will not pay each other spousal support under the terms of a non-public separation contract. They will continue to jointly run the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a trial period.

Jennifer Gates to marry Nayel Nassar this weekend

In the months before and after the divorce became public, Bill Gates, who made his fortune as a founder of Microsoft, began facing scrutiny over his personal life and romantic relationships, including his association with disgraced financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. (Mr Gates has said their ties were purely philanthropic, and that he regrets the association.)

In 2020, the Microsoft board decided Mr Gates needed to leave the board, amid its investigation into a rumoured romantic relationship he had with an employee that was deemed inappropriate. Mr Gates, who resigned before the investigation was complete, has said he was already planning to leave the company’s board.

“There was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably,” a Gates spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal, which reported on the investigation. The billionaire’s decision to leave, they added, “was in no way related to this matter. In fact, he had expressed an interest in spending more time on his philanthropy starting several years earlier.”

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