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Famous breakups: Five biggest divorces

By Ronald Bett and Fred Kagonye | May 5th 2021 | 5 min read
Bill and Melinda Gates were married for 27 years. [Reuters]

The announcement that billionaire couple, Bill, who co-founded Microsoft, and Melinda French Gates, were calling it quits after 27 years set social media on fire, drawing reactions from all over the world.

The pair first met in 1987 when Melinda, 56, joined Bill's Microsoft as a product manager.

They sat together at a business dinner later that year in New York, began dating and wedded in 1994 on the Hawaiian island of Lanai. It is reported that they hired all the local helicopters to stop 'unwanted guests from flying over'.

Bill and Melinda established the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington, a charity that focuses primarily on public health, education and climate change in 2000.

The foundation had net assets of more than Sh4.6 trillion as of 2019. Its grants include Sh187.7 million to vaccine initiatives and research during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The two broke the news of their divorce in separate statements via Twitter but pledged to continue their joint work on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill, according to Forbes, is worth a whopping Sh13.2 trillion. They have not given a structure of how they are going to split their wealth but are believed to have a prenuptial agreement.

In the agreement, Bill and Ann Winblad, an ex he is still close to, keep one vacation tradition alive. Every spring, as he has done for more than a decade, spends a long weekend with Winblad at her beach cottage on the outer banks of North Carolina, where they ride dune biggies, hang-glides and walk along the beach.

Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott

MacKenzie Scott and Jeff Bezos divorced after 25 years of marriage in 2019.

As part of the settlement, Scott got 25% of their Amazon shares worth Sh3.8 trillion. Scott went on to marry teacher Dan Jewett and embarked on a philanthropy mission.

She donated Sh171.6 billion to 116 non-profits, universities, community development groups and legal organizations in July 2020. She topped her donations with Sh611 billion through community leaders to 512 organizations spread across the United States.

Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott. [Reuters]

On his part, Bezos, currently worth Sh21.1 trillion, according to Bloomberg, donated Sh1 trillion to the Bezos Earth Fund. 

Scott, the 22nd richest person, is worth Sh6.3 trillion according to CNN Business.

Elon Musk and Talulah Riley

Elon Musk, the third-richest person with a net worth of Sh20 trillion met Justine Wilson in Ontario, Canada.

Musk, who obtained Canadian Citizenship through his mother, moved to Ontario to study at Queens University at the age of 17.

To win the novelist over, he offered her his credit card so she can buy all the books she wanted.

They wedded in 2000 and moved to Los Angeles in 2002 where they welcomed their first child together, a son, who died at just 10 weeks old of sudden infant death syndrome.

Through IVF, Wilson later gave birth to twins and then triplets. They separated in 2008.

Wilson, who chose to keep Musk’s name, wrote in an article for Marie Claire that she had a good relationship with Talulah Riley who Musk married in 2010 after their divorce. 

Elon Musk and Talulah Riley. [Reuters]

Musk filed for divorce from Riley in 2014 but withdrew the petition seven months later. Riley filed for divorce two years later. 

He went on to date actress Amber Heard in 2016 but broke up the following year.

In 2018, Musk attended the annual Costume Institute Gala with Claire Elise Boucher alias Grimes, a Canadian musician. It was reported that the two had been dating quietly for the weeks preceding the event.

She posted a photo of herself in 2020 showing a baby bump on Instagram, and later confirmed that she is pregnant with his child.

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian

The couple went their separate ways after six years of marriage after Kim filed for divorce in February 2021.

The details of their divorce proceedings drove up the last season of her reality show, Keeping up with the Kardashians, which was in its 21st season. The details of the show which began airing in March 2021 are wrapped in a non-disclosure agreement.

The marriage is said to have hit the rocks when Kanye announced that he was running for president.  American media cited that an interview that he gave offering insights about his marriage including his comments of their relationship in rallies raptured the union.

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. [Reuters]

They are estimated to own assets worth Sh225 billion according to Forbes. Their wealth includes Sh536 million shillings in art, Sh429 million in vehicles, Sh343 million in jewellery and Sh32 million in livestock.

Kimye, as they are known in showbiz circles, had a prenuptial agreement.

According to American media, the divorce was “amicable as a divorce can be”.

Al Gore and Mary Elizabeth “Tipper”

A writer and an environmental activist, Al Gore served as a vice president to Bill Clinton. He won the Democratic ticket to run for the presidency but lost to George W. Bush. 

He met his wife Tipper in 1965 on a senior prom night. They went to college together in Boston and got married in 1970. They have four children.

In June 2010, Al Gore and Tipper, announced that they were separating after 40 years of marriage. They broke the news in a mass e-mail sent to their friends saying said they had grown apart over time.

Still technically together: Al and Tipper, seen in 2007 leaving the White House, have not yet filed for divorce. [Reuters]

It was reported that the separation and eventually divorce wasn’t tied to infidelity.

In 2012, The New York Times reported that the two maintain a close friendship and regularly meet and go on vacations.

As of 2020, Al Gore net worth stood at Sh32 billion.  

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