Since the surprise announcement earlier this month of Bill and Melinda Gates’ impending divorce, dirt has been piling up on one side. During the brain-meltingly rich couple’s 27-year marriage, Bill “had a reputation for questionable behavior,” as one New York Times . His alleged transgressions included an extramarital affair, romantically pursuing subordinates, and maintaining warm relationships with both his money manager and Jeffrey Epstein even after both had been accused of sexual impropriety—and even despite Melinda’s concerns, as unnamed sources emphatically note.
An anonymous member of #TeamMelinda to People: “They’ve grown apart for a variety of reasons…She’s more interested in women’s issues and what and who they helped with the foundation. Bill was—and is—far more interested in the business side of his life,” they said. in Town & Country characterized Melinda as the more “human, humane and community-rooted” side of the Gates Foundation, their eight-figure philanthropy with operations in over 100 countries.
Taken all together, you’d be forgiven for suspecting Melinda herself might be behind some of the coverage (linked to by more than a few Twitter users with tongue-in-cheek compliments to Melinda’s PR Team). Nonetheless, they do have a point: While Bill’s role at Microsoft generated the couple’s obscene fortune, it was largely Melinda who laundered it, helming their image as the world’s top philanthropists—a reputation both parties seem intent on preserving even as their personal relationship dissolves. But that sterling reputation has never been justified. As Bill’s brand as a squeaky clean, dorky do-gooder takes a well-deserved beating, it’s wise to not get too sucked in to this made-for-People-Magazine soap opera of two dyed-in-the-wool plutocrats battling for brand supremacy atop a massive pile of money. This is a story without heroes.