BILL AND MELINDA GATES TO DIVORCE
The high-profile split, with Gates' fortune estimated at over $130 billion per Forbes, raises questions about how their assets may be divided — an that includes U.S. land.
Earlier this year they became the largest owner of farmland in the United States, according to Land Report.
The Land Report researchers concluded that Gates, now the fourth richest man in the world, and his wife, Melinda, own 242,000 acres of farmland.
They own roughly 52,000 more acreage than the Offutt family, which sits at No. 2 on Land Report's list of families who own the most farmland in the U.S.
In total, Bill and Melinda Gates have acquired land in more than a dozen states. However, his largest land holdings are in Louisiana (69,071 acres), Arkansas (47,927 acres), Nebraska (20,588 acres), Arizona (25,750 acres) and Washington state (16,097).
According to Land Report's research, Gates and his wife hired former Putnam Investments bond fund manager Michael Larson in 1994 to help them diversify their personal assets.
These investments included a stake in AutoNation, the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Mass., the Four Seasons in San Francisco and upward of 100,000 acres of farmland in various states, Land Report said, citing a 2014 profile of Larson in The Wall Street Journal.
However, Land Report's latest findings show that the 100,000 figure has since surged to more than twice that amount.
Although Gates is widely known as the man behind tech behemoth Microsoft, he is no stranger to agriculture.
Since the early 2000s, Gates and his wife have made the foray into the agriculture space through numerous investments to support farmers in the developing world.
In 2008, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced $306 million in grants designed to boost the yields and incomes of millions of small farmers in Africa as well as "other parts of the developing world so they can lift themselves and their families out of hunger and poverty."
The foundation also teamed up with the Department for International Development (DFID) to support agricultural research projects in developing countries in order to help small farmers increase their yields and incomes.
Roughly a year ago, Gates created the nonprofit Gates Ag One to further their goals of supporting agriculture in developing countries.
This article, originally published on January 15, 2021, has been updated.