After announcing their divorce on Twitter on Monday, May 3, Bill Gates and Melinda Gates are expected to go separate ways after 27 years of marriage, bringing down the curtain on one of the wealthiest unions in history.
Bill, 65, and Melinda, 56, started dating in 1987 and married seven years later in 1994. The couple is worth an estimated $129 billion (Sh14.2 trillion), which will be at stake when the settlement of their divorce is finally made.
We take a look at other top billionaires who have wound up their marriage in recent memory.
When it comes to divorce, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs take the medal. Nearly all the big names in the industry have either divorced or separated with their spouses, sometimes with multi-billion dollar settlements and payoffs involved.
In July 2019, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie Bezos finalised their divorce after being married for 25 years.
According to a report by Bloomberg, MacKenzie Bezos, now MacKenzie Scott, would effectively become the fourth richest woman in the world after walking away with $35 billion (Sh3.8 trillion).
Bezos would, however, keep 75 percent of their estate, estimated to be about $200 billion (Sh22 trillion) this month.
After two years of dating, Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk married English actress Talulah Riley in 2010. In 2012, the couple divorced. Musk, worth an estimated $173 billion (Sh19 trillion), and Riley would remarry in 2013. In 2014, Musk filed for divorce. The proceedings were finalised in 2016.
From 2018, the South African-born tech entrepreneur has been with Grimes (Claire Elise Boucher), his 33-year-old musician partner who’s Canadian.
Sergey Brin is another tech whiz whose marriage could not hold. The 47-year-old American computer scientist co-founded Google with Larry Page in 1998.
Brin and his wife Anne Wojcicki, a biotech analyst, dissolved their marriage in 2015 after being married since 2007. The pair had lived separately since 2013 after it was revealed that Brin had had an extramarital affair with Amanda Rosenberg, a marketing director at Google Glass.
Among the messiest and most dramatic divorces in history, few come close to that of Bill Gross and Sue Gross in 2016. After the settlement in 2018, Bill, founder and asset manager of Pimco, would crash out of The Forbes 400 after featuring in the list for 14 years consecutively.
Despite his petition to be allowed to take one of three pet cats, the court gave custody of three paws to the wife. From the humiliation of the divorce, Bill started experiencing mental health issues.
But it’s software magnate Larry Ellison who holds the record of the most divorces among his Silicon Valley equals. Between 1974 and 2010, Ellison, who’s worth $94 billion (Sh10.3 trillion), and ranked the 12th wealthiest person in the world, had divorced four times.
In 1974, Ellison divorced Adda Quinn whom he had married in 1967. In 1978, he parted ways with Nancy Jenkins after only a year in marriage. After three years of marriage between 1983 and 1986, Ellison and Barbara Boothe wound up their union. He would go on to divorce Melanie Craft in 2010 after marrying her in 2003.
Away from Silicon Valley, there have been other divorces involving top global personalities, including athletes, filmmakers and entrepreneurs, with mouth-watering settlements made.
Before the Bezos’ divorce, Alec Wildenstein and Joselyn Wildenstein’s had been the most expensive dissolution in history. Alec Wildenstein was an American art dealer and racehorse owner.
After being married for 21 years, the Wildensteins, who were known for their extravagance, went separate ways in 1999, with Jocelyn taking away a staggering $2.8 billion (Sh308 billion).
Jocelyn, known for her penchant for plastic surgery, would also receive $100 million (Sh11 billion) every year for the next 13 years until 2012.
Alec, who died in 2008, was the owner of the 58000-acre Ol Jogi Ranch in Laikipia County.
In 1989, celebrity filmmaker Steven Spielberg and his then wife actress Amy Irving divorced, with their settlement of about $206 million (Sh22.6 billion) joining the list of the highest divorce settlements in history.
Ten years later in 1999, Australian-born American media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his journalist wife Anne Torv called it quits after 31 years of marriage. The settlement was worth $1.7 billion (Sh187 billion).
In an interesting turn of events, Murdoch would marry Wendy Denn 17 days later while Torv went on to marry William Mann half a year after her divorce.
After a protracted dispute between golf great Tiger Woods and his wife Elin Nordegren at the height of the athlete’s downfall, the couple divorced in 2010, with a settlement running into $710 million (Sh78 billion).
Another athlete basketball icon Michael Jordan and his wife Juanita Jordan dissolved their marriage of 16 years in 2006 with a settlement of $213 million (Sh23.4 billion).
French billionaire and art collector Bernard Arnault separated with his wife Anne Dewavrin in 1990 after 17 years of marriage. The chief executive of Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) would go on to marry Canadian-born pianist Helene Mercier.
Russian billionaire and Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich and his wife Irina Abramovich divorced in 2007 after being married for nearly 16 years. The settlement was worth $370 million (Sh40.7 billion).
Zara clothing brand founder Amancio Ortega is divorced from his former wife Rosalia Mera. The Ortegas parted ways in 1986 after being married for 20 years.