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Bill and Melinda’s $169bn estate: Who gets what?

·2-min read
Split image of Bill and Melinda Gates, both talking.
Bill and Melinda Gates have announced their divorce. (Images: Getty).

Billionaire power couple Bill and Melinda Gates announced their divorce on Monday but agreed on how to divide their assets prior to the shock announcement.

The couple, who met while working at Microsoft, had signed a separation agreement which laid out how their property and assets would be split.

Bill Gates, who co-founded Microsoft in 1975, is reportedly worth US$130.5 billion (AU$168.5 billion), making him the fourth richest person in the world.

However, the couple did not sign a prenuptial agreement before their wedding in 1994.

"This marriage is irretrievably broken," the Gates’ petition for divorce states. "We ask the court to dissolve our marriage."

The petition also requests that the assets are divided “as set forth in our separation contract”. However, this contract is not publicly available.

Under Washington law, it’s presumed that property acquired over the course of a marriage is split equally.

However, the same law says spouses can agree that some assets are separate property and grant ownership to just one of them.

US$170 million in property

The couple have a hefty US$170 million real estate portfolio to split up, with homes in Wyoming and Florida plus two properties in California a private island in Belize called Grand Bogue Caye and, their main residence in Lake Washington dubbed Xanadu 2.0, which is valued at US$140 million).

US$650,000 in cars

They also have a collection of sports cars worth an estimated US$650,000 . That includes a Porsche 911, a Porsche Carrera Cabriolet 964, a Jaguar XJ6, a 1988 Porsche 959 Coupe and a Ferrari 348.

US$130 million in artwork

And when it comes to art, their collection is worth an estimated US$130 million featuring works by Leonardo da Vinci, Winslow Homer and Andrew Wyeth.

Gates also holds shares in Microsoft worth US$26.1 billion .

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The couple’s charity, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will remain largely unchanged with the couple saying they plan to keep working together as co-chairs and trustees.

The foundation has sent US$53.8 billion (AU$69.30 billion) into various charitable causes and the fight against COVID-19 since it launched in 2000.

Divorces spike during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a sharp spike in divorces around the world, with US divorce agreement sales soaring 34 per cent. Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus, saw its divorce rate double upon its reopening.

In Australia, Relationships Australia found 42 per cent of people experienced a negative change in their relationship last year.

And Google searches for ‘divorce’ reached their highest point in a year in June 2020.

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Image: Yahoo Finance
Image: Yahoo Finance
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