Melinda French Gates is now worth an estimated $5.6 billion after a fresh set of stock transfers from ex-husband Bill Gates. The pair are in the process of dividing up their assets after their divorce was finalized last week.
The stock transfers to Melinda were enough to make Bill lose his spot as the fourth-richest person in the world, according to Forbes’ real time billionaire ranking. At $129.6 billion, Bill is now worth slightly less than Facebook Ceo Mark Zuckerberg, according to Forbes, and is now the fifth-richest person in the world.
Bill’s investment vehicle, Cascade Investment LLC, transferred nearly $2.4 billion worth of stocks to Melinda on Thursday, according to new SEC filings. The share transfers were first reported by Bloomberg on Monday. In May, days after the couple announced their divorce, Bill transferred $3.2 billion worth of stocks to Melinda.
Melinda received 3.3 million shares of AutoNation, worth about $392 million, according to SEC filings. She now owns 8.8% of the Florida-based car retailer. Cascade also transferred 2.8 million shares of farm equipment maker Deere & Co. DE, 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 will ultimately get. She may have also received additional assets from Bill such as stakes in private companies or real estate for which public disclosure of the transfer is not required. In addition, Bill’s Cascade Investment would not have to disclose a stock transfer if Bill owns less than 5% of the listed company. The terms dictating how the couple’s massive fortune will be split are in a nonpublic separation contract, which was signed before Bill and Melinda announced their divorce in May.
In their original divorce petition, Bill and Melinda said their relationship was “irretrievably broken.” Melinda was reportedly distressed by Bill’s meetings with deceased sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein and began consulting divorce lawyers as far back as 2019.
A spokesperson for Bill also admitted that he had an affair with a Microsoft MSFT employee in 2000, which the company’s board investigated in 2019.Bill stepped down from Microsoft’s board in March 2020 before the probe was completed, though the spokesperson denied he did so because of the investigation.
Bill Gates addressed his relationship with Epstein for the first time. 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 go forward,” Bill added. “Within the family, we’ll heal the best that we can.”
Despite the turmoil, Bill and Melinda have promised to remain co-chairs of the Gates Foundation, which they founded in 2000 and has since become the largest philanthropic organization in the world. The foundation announced last month that Melinda will resign in two years if it turns out that she and Bill can’t work together.