Earlier this week, Bill and Melinda Gates surprised the world when they announced they would be ending their marriage after 27 years. The couple, who met when Melinda was a product manager at the company Bill founded, Microsoft, and who share three children (Jennifer, 25, Rory, 21, and Phoebe, 18) did not have a prenuptial agreement. Forbes estimates that Bill’s net worth is $129.3 billion, making him the fourth-richest person in the world behind Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault.
It has come to light that the Gateses do have a separation agreement, a document they likely drew up with lawyers before filing for divorce, and which they have asked the court to refer to when divvying up their assets. So far, the divorce seems quite amicable, but there’s still a lot to be decided, including how their vast real estate portfolio will be split.
Below, AD investigates what is at stake with their millions of dollars’ worth of properties.
This is the couple’s Medina, Washington, compound, which Forbes reports was nicknamed after the home in Citizen Kane. It was their primary residence and is valued at more than $131 million. At 66,000 square feet, it sits on the shores of Lake Washington and includes amenities like a 60-foot swimming pool and a trampoline room. Architects James Cutler and Peter Bohlin built the dwelling, and the New York Times reports that after Melinda and Bill were married in 1994, she hired AD100 designer Thierry Despont to do the interiors. It seems likely that Melinda will relinquish her rights to the massive abode, considering she told the Times as recently as 2019, “We won’t have that house forever. I’m actually really looking forward to the day that Bill and I live in a 1,500-square-foot house.”
Del Mar, California, Beach House
In April of 2020, the couple picked up an oceanfront mansion near San Diego for $43 million. Built in 1999 by Ken Ronchetti, the property features a six-bedroom main home, two guesthouses, a greenhouse, a pool, a hot tub, and a tennis court. It has a much more modern look than their Washington house, with plenty of glass, stone, light woods, and ocean views.
Rancho Santa Fe, California, Equestrian Ranch
In 2014 they spent $18 million on a 228-acre horse ranch, also near San Diego. (The seller was weight-loss maven Jenny Craig.) The property includes everything one needs to house horses, including stables, a veterinarian office, a racetrack, and a guesthouse. Bill and Melinda purchased another horse farm, in New York’s Westchester County, in 2018, but that was a gift for their eldest daughter, Jennifer, and will likely not factor into the divorce.
Indian Wells, California, Home
They paid $12.5 million for this six-bedroom, nine-bathroom desert getaway in 1999. It is 13,000 square feet and borders a golf course.
Wellington, Florida, Horse Farm
In addition to her New York farm, Jennifer owns Evergate stables in Wellington, Florida. And while that property likely also won’t be part of the divorce, Bill picked up an additional farm in the area in 2019 for $21 million. It is unclear if that parcel was also a gift for Jennifer, or if it will be divided between Bill and Melinda.