Executive Insights

Gates Foundation will reportedly no longer get the bulk of Melinda French Gates’ fortune

Business Insider US
Melinda French Gates.
Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images
  • Melinda French Gates will no longer give most of her wealth to the Gates Foundation.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports that she now plans to spread it among several philanthropic groups.
  • French Gates is Gates Foundation co-chair until at least July 2023 with her ex-husband, Bill Gates.
  • Her fortune is worth around R175 billion.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Melinda French Gates is no longer giving the majority of her wealth to the foundation she launched with ex-husband Bill Gates. 

The Wall Street Journal's Emily Glazer reported Wednesday that French Gates now plans to spread her fortune among multiple philanthropic organisations rather than give most of her fortune to the Gates Foundation, as the couple had committed to doing in their joint Giving Pledge letter in 2010. 

The Giving Pledge — an initiative founded by Gates, French Gates, and Warren Buffett — asks the world's richest people to commit to giving more than half their wealth to philanthropic causes. In a new, individual Giving Pledge letter published in November 2021, French Gates, who's worth $11.4 billion (equivalent to some R175 billion), reaffirmed her commitment to giving away her wealth 

"I recognize the absurdity of so much wealth being concentrated in the hands of one person, and I believe the only responsible thing to do with a fortune this size is give it away—as thoughtfully and impactfully as possible," French Gates wrote. 

A spokesperson said the Gates Foundation "has no additional comment regarding Melinda's future giving beyond what she said in her Giving Pledge letter."

French Gates and Gates announced last May that they were ending their marriage after 27 years together, and their divorce was finalised in August. French Gates had reportedly been meeting with divorce lawyers since 2019 after reports of Gates' ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein came to light.

Soon after the divorce was announced, insiders came forward alleging that Gates had been an office bully who pursued sexual affairs with Microsoft employees — a Gates spokesperson said at the time that the "rumors and speculation surrounding Mr. Gates" were becoming "increasingly absurd."

French Gates and Gates have remained co-chairs of the Gates Foundation, overseeing its roughly $65 billion (R100 billion) endowment for the next two years. The foundation announced last year that if the two cannot continue to work together after that time, French Gates will step down.

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