Last month, we reported that Bill and Melinda Gates shocked the world when they announced that they are divorcing after 27 years of marriage. Now, the a woman known as the “diva of divorce” is speaking out to say that the former couple may be hiding some secrets in their billion-dollar split.
Ayesha Vardag, one of Britain’s most successful matrimonial lawyers, told Page Six that Bill and Melinda had no obvious reason to separate and there could be more to their breakup than they have revealed to the public.
“Why are they splitting when they have so much money, they could practically arrange never to see each other again? That is the big question,” she said.
Vardag, who has represented many multimillionaires over the years, added that even though Bill and Melinda have reportedly worked out their financial agreement, there may yet be more to unravel in the public eye.
“It’s interesting, it makes you wonder if there is something else going on — like a reputational storm coming,” she said.
Vardag went on to say that wealthy married people often have affairs behind closed doors, yet the marriage doesn’t come to an end.
“It’s only when something else happens, some other fundamental problem that just pushes it over the line, that people will divorce,” she explained. “In my experience, ultra-high-net-worth couples will very rarely divorce on the basis of adultery alone.”
Bill, the 65 year-old founder of Microsoft, is valued at more than $130 billion, and alongside Melinda, 56, has donated more than $36 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. One of the issues that Vardag foresees for Bill and Melinda moving forward is how they continue on with their foundation.
“While couples may start off wanting to carry on working together amid their divorce, it quite often becomes a big problem when they no longer agree with each other,” Vardag said. “A couple like this, who have built so much together and would really like to carry that forward, have to protect their legacy.”
Their three children’s inheritances may also come into play, according to Vardag.
“In a number of divorces — particularly in more elderly couples — a source of dispute can often be over the children’s inheritance,” she said. “It can come up for different reasons — new partners, new children — and the wife really wants to safeguard the inheritance for her children [because] she perceives some threat.”