Bill Gates Hired Charlie Munger’s Law Firm To Handle His $130 Billion Divorce Even Though He Was Not A Divorce Lawyer — Melinda Gates Used The Lawyer Who Represented Donald Trump’s 2 Ex-Wives
When Bill and Melinda Gates shared the news of their separation in April 2021, it caught many off guard. They had spent 27 years together, and their collective efforts in the tech and charity sectors made them prominent figures in global news.
The situation was complicated by the absence of a prenuptial agreement, despite the couple’s combined wealth estimated at $130 billion. Given the magnitude, the selection of their legal representation became a point of interest.
Bill Gates once stood as the richest man in the world, until Amazon.com Inc. Founder Jeff Bezos knocked him off the top spot in 2017. This success wasn’t because of lucky breaks or family wealth. It was because he had a vision. He co founded Microsoft, a company that changed the software industry and became known everywhere.
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But Bill Gates didn’t stop at software. He saw the value in supporting fresh, new ideas and startups. Over time, he invested in many young companies across different areas. This smart thinking helped grow his fortune, keeping him among the richest men in the world year after year, even after his divorce.
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When it was time to retain an attorney, Bill Gates turned to the firm Munger, Tolles & Olson for counsel. This firm was co-established by Charlie Munger, a long-standing associate of Gates.
Founded in 1962, Munger, Tolles & Olson had a legal legacy, but it wasn’t the typical go-to for high-profile divorce proceedings. Munger, with his razor-sharp legal acumen and keen business insights, played an influential role in molding the firm’s reputation. He was known in legal and business communities for his intricate understanding of the law and his strategic vision, making him an invaluable asset in any high-stakes negotiation or settlement.
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The bond between Munger and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. CEO Warren Buffett is also of significance. The duo’s partnership at Berkshire Hathaway has become emblematic of collaborative success in the financial world. Their combined wisdom and mutual respect have been the cornerstone of Berkshire’s success over the decades. Munger, as vice chairman of the conglomerate, alongside Buffett, has navigated the intricate world of investments, mergers and acquisitions, further solidifying his credentials in managing complex legal and financial situations. Gates and Buffett are also close friends, making it logical that Bill would include Buffett’s right-hand man in his divorce with billions at stake.
Melinda Gates, not leaving any stone unturned, opted for her own legal powerhouses. Robert Cohen, a part of her team, is a celebrated figure in the legal landscape with a track record of representing big names like Donald Trump’s ex-wives Ivana Trump and Marla Maples, Bloomberg CEO Michael Bloomberg and comedian Chris Rock. His experience in handling high-profile divorces added a layer of tactical expertise to Melinda Gates’s side.
The Gates’s three children were all over 18 at the time of the divorce, which meant custody wasn’t the contentious issue. Instead, the focus shifted to the vast assets, businesses and philanthropic ventures jointly overseen by the couple. Legally speaking, Melinda Gates was entitled to half of Bill Gates’s fortune, which raised the stakes considerably.
In 2010, both Bill and Melinda Gates, along with Buffett, founded the Giving Pledge. This initiative encourages billionaires worldwide to commit to giving away the majority of their wealth to address pressing societal challenges. Through this endeavor, the trio aimed to catalyze a global movement of philanthropy, emphasizing the importance of giving back in meaningful ways. Bill and Melinda Gates pledged to give away the majority of their fortune during their lifetime or after their death.
On Aug. 2, 2021, the chapter on Gates’s marriage concluded. The precise division of their vast assets remains under wraps.
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