money manager, earning solid returns on the Gateses’ and the foundation’s combined $174 billion investment portfolio through a secretive operation called Cascade Investment. Cascade owned assets like stocks, bonds, hotels and vast tracts of farmland, and it also put the Gateses’ money in other investment vehicles. One was a venture capital firm called Rally Capital, which is in the same building that Cascade occupies in Kirkland, Wash.

Rally Capital had an ownership stake in a nearby bicycle shop. In 2017, the woman who managed the bike shop hired a lawyer, who wrote a letter to Mr. Gates and Ms. French Gates.

The letter said that Mr. Larson had been sexually harassing the manager of the bike shop, according to three people familiar with the claim. The letter said the woman had tried to handle the situation on her own, without success, and she asked the Gateses for help. If they didn’t resolve the situation, the letter said, she might pursue legal action.

The woman reached a settlement in 2018 in which she signed a nondisclosure agreement in exchange for a payment, the three people said.

While Mr. Gates thought that brought the matter to an end, Ms. French Gates was not satisfied with the outcome, two of the people said. She called for a law firm to conduct an independent review of the woman’s allegations, and of Cascade’s culture. Mr. Larson was put on leave while the investigation was underway, but he was eventually reinstated. (It is unclear whether the investigation exonerated Mr. Larson.) He remains in charge of Cascade.

published an article detailing Mr. Gates’s relationship with Mr. Epstein. The article reported that the two men had spent time together on multiple occasions, flying on Mr. Epstein’s private jet and attending a late-night gathering at his Manhattan townhouse. “His lifestyle is very different and kind of intriguing although it would not work for me,” Mr. Gates emailed colleagues in 2011, after he first met Mr. Epstein.

(Ms. Arnold, the spokeswoman for Mr. Gates, said at the time that he regretted the relationship with Mr. Epstein. She said that Mr. Gates had been unaware that the plane belonged to Mr. Epstein and that Mr. Gates had been referring to the unique décor of Mr. Epstein’s home.)

The Times article included details about Mr. Gates’s interactions with Mr. Epstein that Ms. French Gates had not previously known, according to people familiar with the matter. Soon after its publication she began consulting with divorce lawyers and other advisers who would help the couple divide their assets, one of the people said. The Wall Street Journal previously reported the timing of her lawyers’ hiring.

The revelations in The Times were especially upsetting to Ms. French Gates because she had previously voiced her discomfort with her husband associating with Mr. Epstein, who died by suicide in federal custody in 2019, shortly after being charged with sex trafficking of girls. Ms. French Gates expressed her unease in the fall of 2013 after she and Mr. Gates had dinner with Mr. Epstein at his townhouse, according to people briefed on the dinner and its aftermath. (The incident was reported earlier by The Daily Beast.)

For years, Mr. Gates continued to go to dinners and meetings at Mr. Epstein’s home, where Mr. Epstein usually surrounded himself with young and attractive women, said two people who were there and two others who were told about the gatherings.

Ms. Arnold said Mr. Gates never socialized or attended parties with Mr. Epstein, and she denied that young and attractive women participated at their meetings. “Bill only met with Epstein to discuss philanthropy,” Ms. Arnold said.

On at least one occasion, Mr. Gates remarked in Mr. Epstein’s presence that he was unhappy in his marriage, according to people who heard the comments.

Leon Black, the head of Apollo Investments who had a multifaceted business and personal relationship with Mr. Epstein, according to two people familiar with the meeting. The meeting was held at Apollo’s New York offices.

It is unclear whether Ms. French Gates was aware of the latest meetings with Mr. Epstein. A person who recently spoke to her said that “she decided that it was best for her to leave her marriage as she moved into the next phase of her life.”

Steve Eder and Jodi Kantor contributed reporting.

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The Separate Worlds of Bill and Melinda Gates

“It was a constant tension point of the foundation. It was Warren who limited it, but Bill’s appetite is always, ‘We should do this, we should do this.’ Teams end up with this massive to-do list,” the former executive said.

Mr. Buffett acknowledged in an interview with The Times last year that he opposed institutional bloat. “That’s the one piece of advice I don’t shut up on, ever, because it’s the natural tendency of every organization,” he said.

Employees at the foundation often have to wear multiple hats to keep up with the demands. For instance, one staff member, Anita Zaidi, serves in the highly technical role of director of vaccine development and surveillance but also serves as president for gender equality.

Mr. Gates famously gave a TED Talk in 2015 warning about the global threat posed by contagious respiratory viruses. The foundation was packed with top talent working on developing new vaccines. It did not, however, have a single person out of roughly 1,600 staff members devoted full time to pandemics before the Covid-19 outbreak began.

For all the workarounds with contract employees and consultants, there was only so much bandwidth, and the decision was made not to have a dedicated team working on the matter. Instead the foundation threw its weight behind the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which helped develop vaccines to combat outbreaks.

When the pandemic struck, the foundation put its resources and expertise to work. It has dedicated $1.75 billion to combating the pandemic so far and played a key role in shaping the global response.

Even without the divorce, the foundation was in the midst of change. Mr. Buffett, the third trustee, turns 91 this summer. Mr. Gates’s father, Bill Gates Sr., who was co-chair and a guiding hand at the foundation, died this past September. Some observers have wondered if the couple’s three children could get involved soon. The elder two are already in college and medical school. Others have raised the possibility that this is the moment to loosen the family’s grip and install a board drawn from professionals outside the inner circle.

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Bill and Melinda Gates’ Divorce Has a Lot at Stake

Bill and Melinda Gates are divorcing after 27 years of marriage, raising questions about the fate of their vast fortune. Their split could yield the biggest divorce settlement on record, according to Forbes’s calculations, surpassing the $35 billion breakup of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott. Given the likely sums involved, what happens with the Gateses’ extensive investments and charity work will be monitored at the highest levels of government, business and the nonprofit sector.

What’s at stake: Mr. Gates is the fourth-richest person in the world, according to Forbes, with wealth estimated at $124 billion. The family is the largest owner of farmland in the U.S. His personal investment firm, Cascade Investment, owns big stakes in assets like the Four Seasons, the Canadian National Railway and the AutoNation chain of car dealerships.

The two have faced relationship struggles in recent years, Andrew, David Gelles and Nick Kulish report in The Times. Mr. Gates stepped down from the boards of Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway in part to spend more time with his family.

What will happen to the Gates Foundation? The $50 billion nonprofit is one of the biggest philanthropies in the world, giving away about $5 billion each year to causes like global public health and childhood education. Most recently, it was instrumental in forming Covax, the global coronavirus vaccination program. For now, the foundation says little will change in how it is run day to day, but people in its orbit worry that an acrimonious split by its founders could cloud the nonprofit’s plans. “Together they have assured me of their continued commitment to the foundation that they have worked so hard to build together,” the foundation’s chief executive, Mark Suzman, told employees in an email.

Ms. Gates could separately become a big philanthropic force. She has already used her own investment office, Pivotal Ventures, to donate money to causes like women’s economic empowerment, and could use any settlement to amplify her giving to preferred groups. “You could imagine Melinda Gates being a much more progressive giver on her own,” said David Callahan, the founder of Inside Philanthropy. “She’s going to be a major force in philanthropy for decades to come.”

The Tristate area will reopen sooner than expected. The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut said they would ease most Covid-19 capacity limits on businesses starting on May 19, thanks to declining coronavirus case numbers.

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What the Gates Divorce Means for the Gates Foundation

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation started with ambitions that, by its lofty standards today, appear almost quaint: providing free internet access to public libraries in the United States. As its founders’ objectives grew in scope, so did the foundation’s reach, until it achieved its current position as the pre-eminent private institution in global public health.

With 1,600 staff members directing $5 billion in annual grants to 135 countries around the globe, the Gates Foundation set a new standard for private philanthropy in the 21st century.

All of that was thrown into question on Monday when the world learned that the foundation’s co-chairs, who had been married for 27 years, filed for divorce in Washington State. Grant recipients and staff members alike wondered what would happen and whether it might affect the mission.

The message from the headquarters in Seattle was clear: Bill and Melinda Gates may be splitting up, but the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation isn’t going anywhere. Their roles as co-chairs and trustees are not changing, and they will still set the agenda for the organization that bears their names. In an email on Monday, the Gates Foundation’s chief executive, Mark Suzman, reassured the staff that both Mr. and Ms. Gates remained committed to the organization.

observers noted that Ms. Gates had added her maiden name, French, to her Twitter profile.

The couple deployed their connections last year in response to the pandemic, calling leaders like Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi to drum up support for their plans. The foundation has committed $1.75 billion so far to its Covid-19 response, and played a key role in shaping the global deal to bring vaccines to poor countries.

That prominence has also brought a fair share of scrutiny, throwing a spotlight on Mr. Gates’s robust defense of intellectual property rights — in this case, specific to vaccine patents — even in a time of extreme crisis, as well as the larger question of how unelected wealthy individuals can play such an outsize part on the global stage.

“In a civil society that is democratic, one couple’s personal choices shouldn’t lead university research centers, service providers and nonprofits to really question whether they’ll be able to continue,” said Maribel Morey, founding executive director of the Miami Institute for the Social Sciences.

reported earlier by Bloomberg.

Before the news of the divorce broke, the Gates Foundation had been in the midst of a period of upheaval. The pandemic shuttered its headquarters in Seattle even as staff members drawn from the top ranks of government health agencies and the pharmaceutical industry worked to muster a response to the deadly, rapidly spreading new coronavirus.

And as his public profile during the pandemic grew, so did spurious conspiracy theories such as that the global immunization effort was a cover for Mr. Gates to implant microchips to track people, blatantly false but still damaging as misinformation increased vaccine hesitancy.

Then Mr. Gates’s father, Bill Gates Sr., also a foundation co-chair, died in September. The elder Mr. Gates had initially taken the lead on his son’s charitable endeavors while the younger Mr. Gates was still at the helm of Microsoft. Bill Gates Sr. was viewed by many as a calm voice and a moral compass within the organization, even as he had stepped back in recent years.

The third trustee, the billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett, turned 90 last year and has begun to discuss succession plans at his company, Berkshire Hathaway.

Dr. Morey said the recent changes could also present an opportunity to create a large, diverse board while increasing visibility into the foundation’s decision-making. “Part of the anxiety is coming from the lack of transparency in the day-to-day activities of the Gates Foundation,” she said.

Forbes estimates at $124 billion. The divorce won’t affect the money that has already been given to the foundation trust, but the couple may devote less money to it over time than they would have if they had stayed together.

“People are right to feel unmoored in terms of the direction of the foundation,” said Ms. Tompkins-Stange of the University of Michigan. “There’s a lot of ambiguity, as there might be in any divorce situation, but they seem committed to co-parenting the foundation.”

David Gelles contributed reporting.

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MacKenzie Scott, a Philanthropist and Ex-Wife of Jeff Bezos, Remarries

The billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has remarried after her high-profile divorce from Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos.

In a letter posted to the website of the philanthropy nonprofit organization the Giving Pledge on Saturday, Dan Jewett, a science teacher at the prestigious Seattle school attended by her children, said that he was “grateful for the exceptional privilege it will be to partner in giving away assets with the potential to do so much good when shared.”

What might otherwise be a wholly private, personal decision, takes on unusual significance in light of the resources at Ms. Scott’s disposal — $53 billion according to Forbes’s most recent estimate — and her stated intention to give the majority of it away.

In addition to the note on the website of the Giving Pledge, Ms. Scott, a published novelist, changed her author page on the Amazon website to read, “She lives in Seattle with her four children and her husband, Dan.”

The Giving Pledge was started by the software mogul Bill Gates, his wife, Melinda, and the billionaire investor Warren Buffett in 2010. Signatories agree to give away the majority of their wealth.

For Ms. Scott, her remarriage is the latest twist in a life where she has quietly but firmly set the limits of her own privacy. Rather than remaining anonymous in her giving, she chose to announce nearly $6 billion in grants and gifts last year in a pair of posts to the site Medium.

“I’ve been calling this discreet transparency. It’s basically transparency but entirely on the givers’ own terms,” said Benjamin Soskis, a senior research associate in the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute. “It gives a simulacrum of transparency but it’s still entirely discretionary.”

Ms. Scott occupies a unique place in the world of mega-philanthropy. She does not have the decades of experience that Mr. Gates or former Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York have built up. But through the sheer speed and scale of her donations, and the way that she has given her gifts with few of the highly restrictive conditions and onerous reporting requirements that had become common, Ms. Scott managed to help shift the debate about the direction of the field.

She gave extensively to Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A. chapters around the country, to food banks and historically Black colleges and universities. She made donations to organizations that support women’s rights, L.G.B.T.Q. equality, and efforts to fight climate change and racial inequities.

report released jointly last week by the groups Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. The groups found that $4 billion of the $6 billion that Ms. Scott gave away last year could be considered pandemic response, which accounted for nearly three-quarters of Covid-19-related giving by billionaires and other high-net-worth individuals.

“She’s made a huge impact,” said Grace Sato, director of research at Candid. “The way that she gave swung the trends in what we were seeing.”

The Wall Street Journal first reported Ms. Scott’s remarriage.

Ms. Scott was married to Mr. Bezos for 25 years. They divorced in 2019 and her share of the divorce settlement was 4 percent of Amazon’s stock. While her former husband became a tabloid mainstay after their divorce, hanging out on superyachts with fellow magnates and celebrities, Ms. Scott mostly stayed out of the limelight.

In a statement, Mr. Bezos said, “Dan is such a great guy, and I’m happy and excited for the both of them.”

It is unclear when Ms. Scott and Mr. Jewett were married. She had not commented about him in any of the publicity around her giving last year. Her representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

“In a stroke of happy coincidence,” Mr. Jewett wrote in his letter posted on the page for the Giving Pledge, “I am married to one of the most generous and kind people I know — and joining her in a commitment to pass on an enormous financial wealth to serve others.”

“I don’t think it’s that surprising to me that she added her husband,” said Debra Mesch, professor at the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University. “She’s saying, ‘We’re a couple now and our household giving is going to be together.’ That’s what a lot of couples do.”

Describing himself as “a teacher for the majority my life,” Mr. Jewett noted the strangeness of a declaration of his giving intentions, “as I have never sought to gather the kind of wealth required to feel like saying such a thing would have particular meaning.” Mr. Jewett teaches at the Lakeside School, which counts Mr. Gates among its prominent alumni.

Mr. Soskis, of the Urban Institute, said that in the past the events that have shaped giving decisions tended to come late in life, centering on retirement and death, in the form of bequests. Leading philanthropists are now much younger, raising a new set of issues. Priscilla Chan and her husband, the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, cited the birth of their daughter as a motivating factor in their giving.

“The fact that giving is now happening in the prime of life means that giving decisions and giving narratives are being shaped by different life cycle events like divorce and marriage and birth in a way that hadn’t really been the case 30 or 40 years ago,” Mr. Soskis said.

Jack Beggcontributed research.

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