Behind the scenes

Explained: the links between Bill Gates and Jeffrey Epstein

Microsoft founder ‘stammers’ when questioned about relationship with billionaire paedophile

Bill Gates

Bill Gates has said he regrets having dinner with Jeffrey Epstein while trying to raise money for his foundation. The meetings took place after Epstein’s child sex conviction.

During an interview with PBS, Gates said that the late paedophile financier claimed to have “relationships with people he said would give to public health”. 

“Those meetings were a mistake,” he said. “They didn’t result in what he purported, and I cut them off. That goes back a long time ago now. There’s nothing new on that.” 

Asked whether there was anything he had learnt from the experience, Gates said he “regretted” the meetings. “In general, you always have to be careful,” he added.

Gates appeared “uncomfortable” throughout the interview, the Daily Mail said, “stammering and fidgeting with his ring finger” as he discussed his relationship with the man who sources told People Magazine was “a sore spot” in his ongoing divorce from Melinda Gates.

Fateful meetings

Announcing their divorce, Bill and Melinda gave no explanation for their separation beyond a joint statement shared on Twitter that said “we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives”. But a former employee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation told The Wall Street Journal that Melinda’s “concerns about the relationship” between her husband and Epstein “date as far back as 2013”.

According to The Daily Beast, Melinda was present for a meeting between her husband and Epstein at the latter’s Upper East Side mansion in September of that year, and afterwards told friends that “she was furious at the relationship between the two men”. 

Melinda described “how uncomfortable she was in the company of the wealthy sex offender”, the site said, and “told friends she wanted nothing to do with him”. Sources close to the couple told the site that “Gates’ friendship with Epstein – who for years was accused of molesting scores of underage girls – still haunts Melinda”. 

Another source close to the pair told People Magazine that “Epstein is definitely a sore spot” for Melinda, adding that her concerns about her husband’s relationship with the disgraced financier date back to those first meetings in 2013 - and that eight years is “a long time for issues to fester”.

Gates has “done his best to minimise his connections” with the disgraced billionaire, The New York Times (NYT) reported, telling the WSJ in April: “I didn’t have any business relationship or friendship with him.” 

However, the NYT found that “beginning in 2011”, he “met with Epstein on numerous occasions”, including “at least three times at Epstein’s palatial Manhattan townhouse, and at least once staying late into the night”. This allegation is supported by an upcoming book by Miami Herald investigative journalist Julie Brown. 

Employees of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation “also paid multiple visits to Epstein’s mansion”, the paper added, while “Epstein spoke with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and JPMorgan Chase about a proposed multibillion-dollar charitable fund”. 

The Gates’ charitable foundation has “championed the well-being of young girls”, the NYT said. But at the point at which the meetings began, Epstein had already served jail time for soliciting prostitution from a minor and was registered as a sex offender.

In mid-May, The Daily Beast reported that Gates sought Epstein’s advice “on ending his marriage with Melinda after the Microsoft co-founder complained about her during a series of meetings at the money manager’s mansion”.

A person familiar with the meetings told the site that “going to Jeffrey’s was a respite from his marriage. It was a way of getting away from Melinda”. They added that Gates and Epstein “were very close”.

Gates’ spokesperson disputed the description of the pair’s relationship, telling the site: “Any claim that Gates spoke of his marriage or Melinda in a disparaging manner is false. Bill never received or solicited personal advice of any kind from Epstein - on marriage or anything else. Bill never complained about Melinda or his marriage to Epstein.”

Common friend

According to Rolling Stone, a neuroscientist described as a “protege” of the late Epstein was a key figure in the relationship between the billionaire paedophile and Gates.

Melanie S. Walker, a former adviser to the Microsoft founder at his charitable foundation, reportedly “talked up Epstein to Gates” having first been employed by the financier as his “science adviser”.

Sources told the magazine that Walker joined Epstein’s inner circle after he spotted her in the dining room of the Plaza Hotel shortly after she finished her undergraduate studies at the University of Texas in 1992. 

“Epstein approached [Walker] because… he thought she was attractive,” a source told the magazine. Alongside him was Donald Trump, the owner of the Plaza Hotel at the time, “who was busy shaking hands with people in the room”.

She was also “close friends” with Prince Andrew, the magazine said, and “talked highly about Epstein” during her time working for the Gates’ charitable foundation. A source said she “felt deep gratitude toward Epstein” for his “advice” and the job as his science adviser.

It is thought that Walker put Epstein forward when Gates was planning his Giving Pledge in 2010, a charitable commitment by the world’s richest individuals to give away the majority of their wealth.

‘An open secret’

Bill and Melinda’s billion-dollar divorce could open the floodgates to a torrent of allegations of infidelity and non-disclosure agreements used to protect the Microsoft founder’s public image, former employees have claimed.

“There have been whispers for years” about Gates’s “inappropriate extramarital relationships”, Vanity Fair reported, adding that “for the people who worked for him”, his “behaviour was something of an open secret”. 

One former employee told the magazine that Gates would often leave the Microsoft headquarters just hours after arriving, saying: “We all assumed that it was when he was with women. I knew there were many off-site meetings that were not on his calendar.”

Others told Vanity Fair that allegations against Gates have been “largely suppressed by Gates’s liberal use of nondisclosure agreements, ostensibly to keep more damning details under wraps”.

In early July, Bill admitted during an “off-the-record” Q&A session that the end of his marriage to Melinda was his fault, sources claimed. 

An attendee of a “summer camp for billionaires” hosted by law firm Allen & Overy told The New York Post that he “might have been on the verge of tears” as he “fessed up to messing up” and “basically referred to the fact that it [the divorce] was his fault”.

Responding to a question by CNBC host Becky Quick following a talk on climate change, Bill did not use the word “affair” while discussing the ongoing divorce proceedings, the source added. A second attendee told the paper his answer was “very moving”.

Sources in the room said Quick did not raise his links to the late-billionare paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. A third attendee told the paper he appeared “agitated” during the appearance, adding: “Bill Gates was pretty much a total asshole.”

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