Warren Buffett resigns as trustee of the Gates Foundation - weeks after Bill and Melinda's divorce

Business Insider US
Warren Buffett resigns from Gates Foundation.
Warren Buffett resigns from Gates Foundation.
  • Warren Buffett is resigning as a trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • Buffett is stepping down weeks after the Microsoft cofounder and his wife divorced.
  • Buffett also hit the 50% milestone in giving away over 90% of his Berkshire Hathaway "A" shares.
  • For more stories go to

Warren Buffett is resigning as a trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, weeks after the Microsoft cofounder and his wife announced their divorce.

"For years I have been a trustee - an inactive trustee at that - of only one recipient of my funds, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMG)," the billionaire investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO said in a statement. "I am now resigning from that post, just as I have done at all corporate boards other than Berkshire's."

"My goals are 100% in sync with those of the foundation, and my physical participation is in no way needed to achieve these goals," he added.

The Gates divorce has sent shockwaves through the philanthropy community, raising questions about how one of the largest and most influential charitable organisations would function after the separation of its two founders and namesakes.

The Wall Street Journal reported in late May that the Gates Foundation might establish a board and bring in outside directors to minimise disruption to its work.

Buffett highlighted in his statement that he's now given away 50% of his Berkshire "A" shares - a key milestone in his mission to donate over 99% of his wealth to good causes.

Buffett pledged in 2006 to contribute virtually all of his 474,998 "A" shares at the time to the Gates Foundation and four other foundations. Following his latest distribution of $4.1 billion (R58 billion) of stock, he now owns 238,624 shares worth about $100 billion (R1.4 trillion).

Along with Bill and Melinda, he has encouraged other billionaires to sign the "Giving Pledge" and commit to give at least 50% of their wealth to charity.

Buffett's statement revealing his resignation also reflected on the challenges of giving effectively and his own thoughts about philanthropy. The release may have been partly inspired by the intense scrutiny he's faced over the past couple of weeks after ProPublica, citing leaked tax returns, reported that he and other billionaires pay a tiny fraction of their net worth in federal income taxes each year.

"The $41 billion of Berkshire shares I have donated to the five foundations has led to only about 40 cents of tax savings per $1,000 given," Buffett said. "That's because I have relatively little income. My wealth remains almost entirely deployed in tax-paying businesses that I own through my Berkshire stockholdings, and Berkshire regularly reinvests earnings to further grow its output, employment and earnings."

"The income I receive from other assets allows me to live as I wish," he added. "My needs are simple; what made me happy at 40 makes me happy at 90."

Buffett also reiterated his famous advice for wealthy people pondering what to do with their money when they die.

"After much observation of super-wealthy families, here's my recommendation: Leave the children enough so that they can do anything but not enough that they can do nothing," he said.

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