Bill Gates Is No Longer The Fourth-Richest Person In The World: Melinda French Gates’ fortune is estimated at $5.7 billion after her ex-husband Bill Gates gave her his shares. The couple is in the process of dividing their assets after their divorce was finalized last week.
The stock transfer to Melinda was enough to make Bill lose his place as the fourth richest man in the world, according to Forbes’ real-time billionaire ranking. Consisting of $129.6 billion, Bill is now worth slightly less than Facebook FB CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s -0.3%, according to Forbes, and is now the fifth richest person in the world.
Bill’s investment company, Cascade Investment LLC, on Thursday transferred nearly $2.4 billion worth of stock to Melinda, according to new Securities and Exchange Commission documents. The stock transfer was first reported by Bloomberg on Monday. In May, days after the couple announced their divorce, Bill transferred $3.2 billion worth of stock to Melinda.
Melinda received 3.3 million shares of AutoNation AN -0.4% worth about $392 million, according to SEC documents. She now owns 8.8% of the Florida-based auto retailer. Cascade also transferred 2.8 million shares of farm equipment maker Deere & Co. DE +2.5%, now worth $1 billion, and 9.5 million shares of Canadian National Railway Co, now also worth $1 billion.
It’s unclear how much Melinda ended up getting. She may also have received additional assets from Bill, such as stakes in private companies or real estate for which no public disclosure of the transfer is required. In addition, Bill’s Cascade Investment does not have to disclose the transfer if Bill owns less than 5% of the company’s listed stock. The terms governing how the couple’s vast fortune will be divided are contained in a non-public property division agreement that was signed before Bill and Melinda announced their divorce in May.
In their initial divorce filing, Bill and Melinda said their relationship was “irretrievably broken.” According to the Wall Street Journal, Melinda was upset about Bill’s encounters with the late sex maniac Jeffrey Epstein and began consulting with divorce attorneys back in 2019. Bill’s spokesman also acknowledged that he had an affair with an MSFT +0.2% Microsoft employee in 2000, which the company’s board investigated in 2019, also according to the Wall Street Journal. Bill resigned from Microsoft’s board in March 2020 pending the outcome of the investigation, though a spokesman denies he did so because of the investigation.
Last week, Bill first broached the subject of his relationship with Epstein. In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, he said it was a “huge mistake” to spend time with him. “It’s a time of reflection, and at this point I need to move forward,” Bill added. “As a family, we’re going to get on with our lives the way we can.”
Despite the upheaval, Bill and Melinda have vowed to remain co-chairs of the Gates Foundation, which they founded in 2000 and which has since become the largest philanthropic organization in the world. Last month, the foundation announced that Melinda would resign after two years if it became clear that she and Bill could not work together.