Melinda French Gates began working with divorce lawyers well over a year before her split with Bill Gates was announced last week, partly over concerns about her husband's dealings with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The billionaire tech mogul had allegedly also flown with Epstein on the pedophile's jet, Lolita Express, from New Jersey to Palm Beach, Florida, in 2013, four years after Epstein had already served time behind bars for soliciting a minor under the age of 18 for sex. Shocking the world with their news, the couple in a joint statement posted on Twitter stated: "After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage".
Those sources said Melinda told her husband she was uncomfortable with Epstein after the couple met him that year, but Bill reportedly continued a relationship with Epstein, despite her concerns.
Mr Gates met with the disgraced financier on multiple occasions, even posing for a photo at the New York townhouse where Epstein was accused of abusing young girls, and once stayed there "late into the night", according to the New York Times.
The couple said that they plan on remaining co-chairs and trustees of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
That same year, Bridgitt Arnold, a spokesperson for Gates, said he "regrets" his meetings with Epstein, which were reportedly to discuss philanthropy.
Like this article? Get more from Axios and subscribe to Axios Markets for free.
"I love being their mother", she tweeted, alongside a throwback photo of her with the three as children. "I don't think they're so angry that anybody wants to take each other down, like you sometimes see".
How much money is at stake?
The Gates' divorce comes two years after Bezos, the founder of online retailer Amazon, finalised his split from his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie Scott. However, the exact reason behind the divorce yet unknown but things are gradually becoming clearer now.
Instead, the two have signed a separation contract for dividing their property and possessions, but the terms of that agreement have not been publicly disclosed in court documents.