The announcement that Bill and Melinda Gates are getting divorced came as a surprise last week, but she has reportedly been talking to lawyers for at least two years—since around the time her husband’s dealings with Jeffrey Epstein made headlines.
The report by The Wall Street Journal builds on an exclusive story by The Daily Beast last week that revealed Melinda Gates had deep misgivings about Epstein and warned the Microsoft founder about the pedophile after a meeting in 2013.
Bill Gates and Epstein, a fabulously wealthy money manager, had a relationship that stretched back to 2011—after Epstein was investigated for sex trafficking and scored a sweetheart deal with prosecutors that let him avoid a federal trial but forced him to register as a sex offender.
Gates, 65, reportedly flew on Epstein’s jet, dubbed the Lolita Express, and had numerous meetings. The contact continued even after Melinda, 56, told her husband about her concerns about Epstein.
The ties between Epstein and Bill Gates were the subject of a New York Times story in October 2019—after Epstein was finally hit with federal sex trafficking charges and after he killed himself in prison.
The Journal reports that around that time, according to documents the newspaper reviewed, Melinda Gates had a number of conversations with divorce lawyers.
But it wasn’t until last Monday that the billionaires had worked out a separation agreement behind the scenes and were ready to announce and end to their 25-year marriage. The couple used a mediator to divvy up their $130 billion fortune, the Journal reported.
They gave no reason for the split, though Melinda Gates said in a court filing that the union was “irretrievably broken.”
Bill Gates has previously said that he did not have a business relationship or friendship with Epstein and called his contact with him “an error in judgment.”