When ordinary folks like you and I get a divorce, the impact majorly revolves around the personal effect on the individuals. However, it is a different ballgame when billionaires split as there are billions of dollars on the line and the potentiality of creating new billionaires or decreasing the holdings of some others. For instance, when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and his wife of 25 years, Mackenzie, split in 2020, she received $38 billion worth of stocks in her ex-husband’s company. That amount has since grown upwards of $60 billion and she is now one of the 25 richest individuals in the world.
A similar scenario is set to play out in 2021 as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, and his wife Melinda Gates, are divorcing after 27 years. The duo are amicably pursuing their split and have stated that they would continue the great philanthropic work they do through their Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They have also agreed on a separation contract that details how they want their property to be split. The details of this separation contract are not yet public knowledge but the initial movement of stock holdings, as well as legal requirements, shows that Ms. Gates could end up with a net worth of $73 billion. This will make her the second richest woman in the world behind L’Oréal heiress Francoise Bettencourt.
Bill Gates $146 Billion Fortune Could Be Split 50-50 Thanks To Washington State Laws
Melinda Gates and her soon-to-be ex-husband have a combined net worth of $146 billion. This could potentially be split into two equal halves thanks to state laws. The couple have long made their home in Medina, Washington, and the state is one of nine U.S. states that pursue the principle of community property. This means that any asset acquired by the couple in the course of their marriage will be evenly split between them. If this law were to be followed, Melinda would acquire a net worth of $73 billion which will see her become one of the 20 richest individuals in the world, as well as the second richest woman in the world.
Community property laws defer to prenups though but the interesting thing about the Gates’ divorce is that they do not have any known prenuptial agreement in place. This is in spite of the fact that Bill Gates had already made his first billions from Microsoft by the time he and Melinda tied the knot in 1994. The couple presumably did not see the need to muddy up their budding romance with talks of a prenup or perhaps they taught that they would last forever. Well, forever has turned to 27 years and they and their lawyers now have the task of dividing up a mouth-watering array of assets, including a property portfolio worth $230 million.
The Gates Own Multi-Million Dollar Mansions and Are the Largest Farmland Owners in America
Melinda Gates potentially stands to get tens of millions of dollars worth of real estate in the divorce proceedings from her husband. The couple own several mansions, including a magnificent primary residence known as Xanadu 2.0. Located in Medina, Washington, Xanadu 2.0 boasts of a 23-car garage, a 60-ft swimming pool with an underwater music system, a 2,100 sq ft library as well as a 2,300 sq ft ballroom that can host up to 200 people. The property has a value of $150 million and the Gates pay an upward of $1 million per annum in taxes on it.
Asides from Xanadu 2.0, Melinda Gates and her husband also own several other homes, including a $12.5 million property in the resort city of Indian Wells as well as a $43 million oceanfront home in Del Mar. The couple are also the largest farmland owners in America thanks to their 268,984 acres of land which is spread across a total of 19 states. All these properties were acquired after they had already tied the knot meaning that they come under the definition of community property and will likely be split in half.
This splitting will present a unique challenge though as lands and houses cannot be divided in the same manner as perhaps money. It will be up to the Gates to decide whether one of them would cede the property to the other or perhaps buy the other out. In a case where such an agreement cannot be reached, then the property may be sold and the money divided. Whichever formula it eventually goes, Melinda Gates stands to gain tens of millions worth of assets which would further help her rise in the billionaire rankings.
Melinda Gates Will Recieve Billions of Dollars Worth of Investments via Cascade Holdings
The biggest avenue through which Melinda Gate’s future fortune will come from is not real estate but holdings in Cascade Investment, Bill Gates’ primary investment vehicle. He reportedly has a $29.9 billion stake in the company. He has also made billions of dollars worth of investment via the company and they include Deere & Co ($11.9 billion), Canadian National Railway ($11 billion), Coca Cola Femsa ($4.2 billion). Berkshire Hathaway ($2.1 billion), and Auto Nation, etc. ($1.3 billion).
Bill Gates also has stakes in several hotels and the division of these stock holdings has already started as Melinda has received a transfer of substantial shareholding in the first week of their divorce announcement. She received 2.9 million shares in AutoNation (worth $300 million), 14 million shares in Canadian National Railway Company (worth $1.5 billion), 25 million shares in Coca Cola Femsa (worth $120 million), and 155 million shares in Grupo Televisa (worth $386 million). These initial stock transfers have made Melinda a billionaire already ($2.4 billion to be exact) and you can expect that as more stock transfers come in, her personal net worth will continue to rise.
There are Also Cars, Private Jets, and Pricey Artworks to be Divided
The Gates own several exquisite cars and private jets and a portion of this will be going to Melinda as well. In their car collection are several Porsches, including a Porsche Taycan Turbo which Bill bought for about $150,900 in 2020. There is also a rare Porsche 959 which goes for as much as $2 million. Melinda may gladly cede ownership of these cars to her ex seeing as he is quite fond of them. The lady, however, may not be that agreeable when it comes to their private jet collection which includes a Cessna 208 and two Bombardier Jets worth $40 million apiece.
The entire private jet collection rounds out to about $88 million and Melinda may end up getting half of its value or perhaps, one of the Bombardier Jets. Another thing the lady will be very much interested in is artworks. She and her husband own several pricey artworks from the likes of Frederick Childe Hassam and William Merritt Chase. They also own the 16th century Leonardo Da Vinci manuscript known as Codex Leicester. The notebook cost them $30 million and when combined with their other works, it means that their art collection easily tops $100 million.
Melinda Gates May Channel Her New Fortune into Her Personal Philanthropic and Investment Company, Pivotal Ventures
So, how would Melinda Gates likely deploy her new fortune? Well, one answer is philanthropy. She already does enormous work with her husband via their foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and they have vowed to keep the flag flying. It, therefore, means that she will be plowing some money back into the foundation. The lady may also likely move significant cash to her own personal organization known as Pivotal Ventures.
Described as an investment and incubation company, Pivotal Ventures uses a combination of philanthropy and venture capital to fund projects or ideas that advance social progress and equality in the United States. The organization has thus far supported All Raise, an organization that seeks to encourage more women VCs. They also have the $40 million Equality Can’t Wait Challenge which aims to boost the power and influence of women in the U.S. Melinda Gates has thus far committed no less than a billion dollars to Pivotal Ventures. There is no doubt that she would commit more as her new wealth rolls in.
Rundown of the Ten Richest Women in the World
- Francoise Betterncourt Meyers – $84.8 billion
- Julia Fleisher Koch $64.4 billion
- Alice Walton – $62.2 billion
- MacKenzie Scott – $58.2 billion
- Jacqueline Badger Mars – $44.8 billion
- Yang Huiyan – $33.1 billion
- Gina Rinehart – $30.4 billion
- Abigail Johnson – $27.2 billion
- Iris Fontbona – $25.5 billion
- Susanne Klatten – $25.4 billion