Bill and Melinda Gates, co-founders of the one of the world’s largest private charitable foundations, have pledged to continue their philanthropic work together after filing for divorce after 27 years of marriage.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has become one of the most powerful forces in global public health, spending more than $50bn over the past twenty years.
The Gates have brought a business approach to combating poverty and disease, building widely praised programmes in malaria and polio eradication, child nutrition and vaccines.
The foundation last year committed around $1.75bn to coronavirus relief.
In a joint petition for dissolution of marriage, the couple asserted their legal union was “irretrievably broken,” but said they had reached agreement on how to divide their martial assets.
No details of that accord were disclosed in the filing in King County Superior Court in Seattle.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, 65, met Melinda after she joined the software giant as a product manager.
The pair dated for a few years before marrying in January 1994 in Hawaii.
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” the two said in a joint statement posted on Twitter.
“We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in the next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”
The non-profit Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, launched in 2000, ranks as the largest private philanthropic foundation in the US with net assets of $43.3bn at the end of 2019.
From 1994 to 2018, the couple gifted more than $36bn to the Seattle-based foundation, according to its website.
Last year, investor Warren Buffett donated more than $2bn of stock from his Berkshire Hathaway firm to the cause as part of plans to give away his entire fortune before his death.