Bill Gates, Melinda Gates have huge Washington home to split up in divorce
Melinda Gates once told a reporter she was 'looking forward' to moving into a smaller home
Bill Gates and Melinda Gates’ sprawling lakefront home is large enough that they could probably both live there after getting divorced without ever seeing each other – but past comments by Melinda Gates indicate she’ll likely be happy to give up the custom, tech-filled home.
The couple, with a combined net worth of more than $130 billion according to Forbes, jointly announced on Twitter this week that they were ending their 27-year marriage.
Construction on their Medina, Washington, home nicknamed "Xanadu 2.0" began before their 1994 wedding, and they weren’t able to move in until 1997. The main mansion is more than 48,160 square feet with views of Lake Washington, the Seattle skyline and the Olympic Mountains, according to property records.
In 1991, Bill Gates told a local TV reporter about building his custom home, which was then estimated to cost $10 million. The years-long project cost closer to $60 million. Today, property records show its value is appraised at more than $130 million and the annual property tax bill tops $1.1 million.
The home may be more reflective of the tech-focused Microsoft founder than his soon-to-be-ex-wife. Ahead of the family moving in, The Washington Post reported that some of the initial features designed for the home like the trampoline room with 20-foot ceilings and a large arcade were results of Bill’s bachelor years, rather than the family’s needs. After they got married, Melinda added some of her own touches and redesigned a kitchen.
However, that may not have been enough of a woman’s touch. Melinda Gates told The New York Times Magazine in 2019 that she was "really looking forward to the day that Bill and I live in a 1,500-square-foot house."
She also noted that "the house was being built before I came on the scene."
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The home includes seven bedrooms and 18 bathrooms, according to property records. U.S. News & World Report disclosed in 1997 that it features multiple kitchens, a formal dining room that sits up to 24, and a 2,300-square-foot reception hall that can host up to 200, a 20-seat art deco theater and a 2,100-square-foot library with a domed reading room, fireplace, bar hidden behind a bookcase and the Codex Leicester, a 16th-century Leonardo da Vinci notebook.
"Miles" of communication cable went into the home to provide smart home features way ahead of their time, according to the report. Each room features touchpads to control lighting, music and climate. The floors and driveway are heated. A rotating selection of art is displayed on screens. Electronic pins given to visitors allow computers to track them – and their preferences – around the property.
A guest house built in 1992 also features the same high-tech features and was built to test them ahead of the main home, U.S. News also reported.
The home’s foundation was built on concrete piers with tiebacks and steel reinforcement to survive earthquakes, U.S. News reported. The home was partially built into a hillside for energy efficiency. Refurbished support beams salvaged from a mill, along with 500,000 board feet of lumber, were used in its construction.
The home sits on a 5.15-acre property with 475 feet of Lake Washington waterfront. Other amenities on the property include a putting green, sports court, two docks, a boathouse and a sandy beach that purportedly had sand imported from Hawaii. Bill Gates event spent $14.4 million buying neighboring properties to create a privacy buffer, the Seattle Times reported in 2004.
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Visiting the property was "like arriving at Jurassic Park," a former Microsoft intern wrote in a 2007 blog post after attending a barbecue hosted by the company founder. And tours of the property Gates donated to support the company’s annual charitable efforts drew winning bids of $35,000, the Puget Sound Business Journal reported in 2009.
Melinda told The New York Times Magazine in 2019 that she was anticipating a "lifestyle change" once their youngest daughter went off to college.
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"With the [Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation] in Seattle, we will be here for at least six months out of the year," she told the magazine. "But I assure you, if we decide to spend six months somewhere else it will be in a smaller house."
She has a few options, even if she doesn’t want to go house hunting. The Gateses also own homes in California, Florida and Montana, according to Realtor.com.