Bill Gates and his wife Melinda are to get divorced, he has said.
In a message on the Microsoft founder’s Twitter account, the couple said they made the decision after “a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship”. Gates, the fourth richest man in the world with a net worth of $130bn (£93bn), married Melinda in January 1994.
“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,” they said.
“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. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”
The couple, who married on a golf course on the Hawaiian island of Lanai 27 years ago, have three children together – Jennifer, Rory and Phoebe. They live in an earth-sheltered mansion on the side of a hill overlooking Lake Washington in Medina, Washington.
At age 31 in 1987, Gates was already the youngest billionaire ever, several years before he got married.
He became the world’s richest man in 1995 at the age of 39 with a fortune of £12.9bn (9.2bn) – with his company Microsoft introducing Internet Explorer to the world later that year.
In 2000, the couple founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – a merging of the William H Gates Foundation and the Gates Learning Foundation – which is reported to be the largest private foundation in the world.
The foundation currently has over $51bn (£36.6bn) in assets, according to a tax filing and aims to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty across the globe, as well as to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology in the US.
Gates’ divorce announcement comes two years after Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said that he and his then-wife, MacKenzie Scott, were getting divorced, leaving her the world’s third-richest woman in 2019.
The former couple, who have four children, were married for 25 years and Ms Scott – helped Bezos start Amazon in 1994. Ms Scott has since married a science teacher from her children’s school. Her fortune is estimated to be worth around $53bn (£38.3bn), according to Forbes.
Despite Gates’ fortune continuing to grow, he lost his spot as the richest man on the planet in 2008 for the first time in 13 years when he was surpassed by his friend Warren Buffet and Mexican telecom giant Carlos Slim Helu.
He is now in fourth place, according to Forbes, with Bezos nabbing the top spot with a fortune of $197bn (£141bn).
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