The Gates family is one of the most influential families in the world. The patriarch is Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and consistently one of the richest men in the world. Though his net worth fluctuates with the stock market, Gates was worth an estimated $122 billion as of July, according to Forbes. Then there’s Melinda French Gates, co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private charity in the world. The couple have three children together, eldest daughter Jennifer, middle son Rory and youngest Phoebe. This seemed like a perfect — and hugely wealthy — family until Bill and Melinda shocked the world by announcing their divorce in 2021 after 27 years together.
One question was how the relationship with the children would change. Another obvious issue was inheritance. Bill has long said he didn’t want to give his children easy money and would in fact only leave each child a limited amount of money as a percentage of his insane net worth. For each child, he planned to leave them just $10 million each, Page Six reported. When the divorce was finalized, Melinda rented an entire island in the Caribbean called Calivigny Island to house the family away from media — and Bill — attention. Allegedly, everyone in the family, including Phoebe, was upset with Bill after news of the divorce, per TMZ.
Between the inheritance talk and the divorce, here’s a look at Bill’s relationship with his youngest daughter, Phoebe.
Bill and Phoebe Gates are having a glamorous time together
In June, Bill and Phoebe Gates both dressed up to attend the glitzy Time100 event in New York City. The annual gala celebrates the 100 most influential people in the world, according to Time Magazine. On the red carpet, Bill and Phoebe snapped side-by-side photos. Bill wore a classic black tuxedo, while Phoebe wore a shimmering pink dress by luxury Italian brand Fendi. In addition, this dress was designed by Donatella Versace in a collaborative collection between Fendi and Versace. It’s the exact same dress supermodel Naomi Campbell wore on the runway. After the gala, Phoebe shared on Instagram that she was honored to attend the event with her father. She also claimed that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings actor Simu Liu convinced Bill at the event to try bubble tea for the first time. A few weeks later, Phoebe posted an adorable series of childhood photos with Bill on Instagram. “Thank you for being my father. Love you today and always,” she wrote in the caption.
After graduating from high school in 2021, Phoebe attended Stanford University. Her sister Jennifer congratulated Phoebe on her achievement in a heartfelt post. Bill is one of several famous Harvard dropouts, but was a huge Stanford supporter and donated $6 million to the Gates Computer Science Building on campus.
The ups and downs with Bill and Phoebe Gates
A common bond between Bill and Phoebe Gates is a love of reading. Bill is famous for his voracious reading habit, and revealed to Reddit that he sometimes reads for up to three hours a day. That passion seems to have been passed on to Phoebe. One of her favorite authors is John Green and she has introduced both of her parents to his books. Given Bill’s influence, it’s not surprising that he was then able to bond with Green and introduce him to Phoebe. At one event, “John pulled Phoebe aside to share a secret with her: the plot of his new book. He made her promise not to share it with anyone, and she stayed true to her word for nearly two years,” Gates revealed on his blog GatesNotes.
Unfortunately, this family bond changed a few years later. Bill’s relationship with Melinda French Gates had reportedly been rocky for years, and Phoeobe growing up and moving out put the final nail in the coffin. “It’s absolutely because their youngest kid is graduating from high school and the idea was that they stayed together until then,” a source close to the Gates family told People. While Phoebe probably had a hard time dealing with her parents’ split, she needed to get on with her life as a teenager. A few weeks after her sister posted about the family’s challenging time, Phoebe showed off her pink ball gown on Instagram.