It’s over. Nearly three decades after they tied the knot, Bill Gates and Melinda Gates are going their separate ways.
The Moment of Lift author, 56, announced the news via social media on Monday, May 3. “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” she wrote. “Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives. We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”
Melinda concluded: “We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”
Bill, 65, shared the same statement on his own Twitter account.
The twosome exchanged vows in Lanai, Hawaii, in January 1994 and share three children: daughter Jennifer, 25, son Rory, 21, and daughter Phoebe, 18.
In 2000, the now-estranged pair cofounded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has gone on to become one of the largest charitable organizations in the world. As of 2018, the foundation had an endowment of $46.8 billion.
“It’s absolutely a partnership of equals,” Melinda told CBS Sunday Morning of the foundation in 2017. “It’s important to both of us that the world understands that we are running this place together. This is our joint values being played out in the world.”
Over the years, the pair made a commitment to redistribute a significant amount of their wealth to charity. In 2010, they signed the Giving Pledge, agreeing to give at least half of their net worth to help fund disaster relief, refugee aid, girls’ empowerment, the arts and more worthy causes. By August 2020, 211 wealthy donors from around the world joined the Gates duo and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett in taking the pledge.
More recently, the pair worked hard in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, donating $1.75 billion to research efforts and vaccine distribution through their foundation by December 2020.
The Microsoft cofounder has an estimated net worth of $124 billion. Melinda, for her part, has repeatedly topped Forbes‘ annual list of powerful women. It’s unclear whether a prenuptial agreement was signed before their wedding.
As the pair marked their 25th wedding anniversary in 2019, the Texas native reflected on how her marriage had progressed through the years.
“We’ve just gotten to a point in life where Bill and I can both laugh about more things,” she told the Sunday Times. “And, believe me, I can remember some days that were so incredibly hard in our marriage where you thought, ‘Can I do this?’”