Bill and Melinda Gates’ divorce: Melinda’s ‘unusual’ lawyer move

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Bill and Melinda Gates' divorce: Melinda's 'unusual' lawyer move

Companies

May 18, 2021, 1:28 a.m.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates and wife Melinda separated. Video / NZ Herald

It is a known fact that Bill and Melinda Gates’ three children will not inherit the billions of fortunes Microsoft has amassed.

Instead, the couple’s three children – Jennifer, 25, Rory, 21, and Phoebe, 18 – each have $ 10 million left.

But the divorce from Bill and Melinda, announced earlier this month, could change that.

Celebrity divorce experts say the legal team Melinda hired to manage her breakup from Microsoft founder – including some of America’s top trust and estate attorneys – could help her fight more of the divorce.

The couple's three children - Jennifer, Rory, and Phoebe - are said to each have $ 10 million left.The couple’s three children – Jennifer, Rory, and Phoebe – are said to each have $ 10 million left.

Well-known divorce attorneys Harriet Newman Cohen and Martha Cohen Stine told the New York Post that it was “most unusual for the names of trust and estate attorneys to appear on a divorce petition.”

Not involved in the Gates’ divorce, Newman Cohen and Cohen Stine are well versed in high profile divorces and previously have New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, ex-wives of Harvey and Bob Weinstein, NBA star Paul George, actors Laurence, representing Fishburne, Howard Stern’s ex-wife and the former wife of Louis CK.

“Bill Gates proudly announced to the world that he would give $ 10 million to each of his three children and that the rest of the billions would go to charity,” said Newman Cohen.

“Now that Melinda is in control – maybe she wanted to give her kids more than $ 10 million each. Maybe she didn’t agree.”

Melinda is represented by top divorce attorney Robert Cohen of Cohen Clair Lans Greifer Thorpe & Rottenstreich, whose clients include Michael Bloomberg and Ivana Trump.

She has also listed estate planning attorney Loretta Ippolito of Paul Weiss and Bruce Birenboim of the firm that has represented Citigroup and the NFL.

Melinda and Bill Gates speak on stage during the 2018 Robin Hood Foundation fundraiser in New York.  Photo / Getty ImagesMelinda and Bill Gates speak on stage during the 2018 Robin Hood Foundation fundraiser in New York. Photo / Getty Images

Over the years Bill has spoken about how much he planned to leave his children.

In a 2016 interview on the British breakfast show This Morning, the Microsoft boss said his children were “proud” of his decision to dedicate most of his fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Our kids will get a great education and some money so they will never be bad, but they will go out and have their own careers,” he said.

“It is no favor for children when they have huge sums of wealth. It distorts everything they could do and creates their own path.”

Gates’ squeaky clean image as a philanthropic family man is getting gloomy day by day, two weeks after he and Melinda announced their divorce.

Since then, the problems that likely led to the couple’s end of the marriage have continued to emerge.

There are stories of Gates’ allegedly uncomfortable behavior towards female employees, weekend retreats with ex-girlfriends, and a little-known connection with Jeffrey Epstein – reports suggest the Microsoft founder goes far beyond his tireless tech business and charity wanted to build.

A Gates spokeswoman has vigorously denied any wrongdoing on his behalf.

An investigation by the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Microsoft board members have decided Gates’ best move out of the board in 2020 after an internal investigation found that a previous romantic relationship with one of the company’s engineers was “inappropriate”.

The Microsoft engineer wrote a letter to the board in late 2019 claiming she and Gates had had a sexual relationship for years.

“Microsoft received concerns in the second half of 2019 that Bill Gates wanted to establish a close relationship with an employee of the company in 2000,” a Microsoft spokesman told the Wall Street Journal.

“A committee of the board looked at the concern, assisted by an outside law firm, to conduct a thorough investigation. Microsoft provided full support to the person who raised the concern throughout the investigation.”

Gates’ spokeswoman said the affair “ended amicably” and that his decision to step down from Microsoft’s board of directors in March 2020 was not related to the investigation but rather to the fact that he wanted to focus more on his philanthropic work.