Bill and Melinda Gates Are Splitting Up. Now What About Their Art Collection?

  • May 03, 2021 16:03

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George Bellows' "Polo Crowd"
Winslow Homer's "Lost on the Grand Banks"
Bill and Melinda Gates are ending their marriage after 27 years, the couple announced via Twitter on Monday. Noting that "..we no longer believe that we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives," their statement says. They have 3 adult children.

The pair will continue to work together on the Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Founded in 2000, their influential philanthropic initiatives have resulted in a staggering $53.8 billion given to global health, poverty alleviation, US education and more, including a total of $1.75 billion to the current global pandemic response by December 2020.

The Gates family was worth $137 billion in February 2021, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, making them the fourth-richest people in the world, behind Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Bernard Arnault.

Among the Gates' sizable assets, several notable artworks were primarily acquired when Bill Gates was still in his role as Microsoft Chairman, according to an Insider article in 2015. Notable acquistions include Winslow Homer's "Lost on the Grand Banks," which Bill Gates paid $36 million for in a 1998 private sale, a record price for an American painting at the time.


Stand-out examples of American Impressionism that Gates reportedly purchased from collector Richard Manoogian 20 years ago included Childe Hassam's "Room of Flowers" for $20 million and William Merritt Chase's "The Nursery" for $10 million. 

George Bellows' "Polo Crowd" was reportedly purchased anonymously by Bill Gates at a Sotheby's auction in 1999, for $27.5 million, then an auction record for American art. The painting had been in the John Hay Whitney Collection for nearly 70 years until the death of his widow, Betsey Cushing Whitney. It was then donated to the Museum of Modern Art which turned it down before the work landed at auction, reported the Wall Street Journal.

William Merritt Chase's "The Nursery"
Childe Hassam's "Room of Flowers"

Among Gates's most high profile art purchases was the $30.8 million spent on Leonardo da Vinci's handwritten and illustrated journal, "Codex Leicester."

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