Melinda Gates, the estranged wife of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, reportedly met with divorce lawyers in 2019 following reports of links between her husband and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who committed suicide in prison that year.

Citing sources close to the situation as well as documents it obtained, The Wall Street Journal reported that Melinda Gates began working with lawyers from multiple firms two years ago.

One source as well as a former employee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation told the Journal that one concern Melinda Gates had was Bill Gates’s association with Epstein.


The Journal reported that Melinda Gates and her advisers held several calls in October 2019, around the same time The New York Times released a report detailing the multiple meetings her husband had with Epstein, at one point reportedly staying at his Manhattan townhouse late into the night.

A spokesperson for Bill Gates said at the time that the meetings were to discuss philanthropy and that he regretted ever meeting with Epstein. When reached for comment by the Journal, a representative for Bill Gates told the outlet that he stands by his previous statements regarding Epstein.

A former employee of the couple's foundation told the Journal that Melinda Gates expressed her discomfort with Epstein after she and her husband met with him in 2013.

By March 2020, the couple were already discussing how they would they divide their immense wealth, the Journal reported. Melinda Gates's legal team includes Robert Stephan Cohen, who also represented Michael BloombergMichael Bloomberg5 former Treasury secretaries back Biden's plan to increase tax enforcement on wealthy On The Money: Biden ends infrastructure talks with Capito, pivots to bipartisan group | Some US billionaires had years where they paid no taxes: report | IRS to investigate leak Feds looking into release of wealthy Americans' tax info MORE and Ivana Trump in their respective divorces.

The May 3 divorce filings show that the couple have agreed to separate their assets according to a separation contract, the Journal reported. Their assets include a $131 million home compound in Washington state, a rare Leonardo da Vinci notebook, and investments in Microsoft and Four Seasons Hotels.

The couple announced their plans to divorce last week, saying in a statement that they had come to this decision "after a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship," adding they can no longer "grow together as a couple." They said they planned to continue to work together on their foundation.

In court documents obtained by NBC News last week, Melinda Gates said her marriage to Bill Gates was "irretrievably broken."