The Daily Beast
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photo GettyBachelor sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein gave Bill Gates 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, according to two people familiar with the situation.Gates used the gatherings at Epstein’s $77 million New York townhouse as an escape from what he told Epstein was a “toxic” marriage, a topic both men found humorous, a person who attended the meetings told The Daily Beast.The billionaire met Epstein dozens of times starting in 2011 and continuing through to 2014 mostly at the financier’s Manhattan home—a substantially higher number than has been previously reported. Their conversations took place years before Bill and Melinda Gates announced this month that they were splitting up.Gates, in turn, encouraged Epstein to rehabilitate his image in the media following his 2008 guilty plea for soliciting a minor for prostitution, and discussed Epstein becoming involved with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.The people familiar with the matter said Gates found freedom in Epstein’s lair, where he met a rotating cast of bold-faced names and discussed worldly issues in between rounds of jokes and gossip—a “men’s club” atmosphere that irritated Melinda.“[It’s] not an overstatement. Going to Jeffrey’s was a respite from his marriage. It was a way of getting away from Melinda,” one of the people who was at several of the meetings said, adding that Epstein and Gates “were very close.”A representative for Bill Gates told The Daily Beast: “Your characterization of his meetings with Epstein and others about philanthropy is inaccurate, including who participated. Similarly, any claim that Gates spoke of his marriage or Melinda in a disparaging manner is false.” The spokesperson disputed the number of times Epstein and Gates met and said the two men never discussed Epstein getting involved with the foundation.“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.” A representative for Melinda did not respond to a request for comment for this report.As The Daily Beast exclusively reported, Melinda Gates was furious over Bill’s relationship with Epstein, and was put off by the creepy financier upon meeting him in September 2013, after the couple accepted an award at a New York City hotel. Melinda’s anger, people familiar with the matter said, eventually led to the demise of Bill and Epstein’s friendship.The Wall Street Journal recently reported Melinda Gates consulted divorce lawyers in October 2019, around the time it was publicly revealed that Bill met with Epstein—who had died by suicide in jail months earlier—multiple times in the past.Melinda Gates Warned Bill About Jeffrey EpsteinOn May 3, the high-powered couple announced they were ending their 27-year marriage in a statement that read, in part: “We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this next life.” In her petition for divorce Melinda said her marriage is “irretrievably broken” and indicated the couple had settled on a plan to divide their vast assets outside the courtroom.Last week, the New York Post reported that Gates told his golfing buddies he was in a “loveless” marriage which “had been over for some time,” while People described Epstein as a “sore spot” in the couple’s relationship.But Epstein wasn’t the couple’s only point of contention. On Sunday, the New York Times reported that Gates allegedly made advances on women who worked at Microsoft and his foundation while he was married to Melinda. The Journal followed up with its own report, revealing that Gates resigned from Microsoft’s board in 2020 amid an internal investigation into an alleged sexual relationship with a company engineer, who came forward in late 2019. (“There was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably,” a Gates spokeswoman told the Journal, adding that his departure from the board wasn’t related to the relationship.)People close to Bill Gates told The Daily Beast that the deterioration of their relationship could be seen in Bill and Melinda’s body language. The couple used to interact with “more laughter and ease,” said one friend of Bill, who added that eventually, “being around them was like arriving at a summit.”“It wasn’t like arriving at a dinner with a couple or something; it was more like two heads of state,” the friend added. “So that’s why Epstein could have been a factor [in their split], but was it the factor? That I fundamentally don’t believe.”The friend said the couple’s strictly regimented existence as billionaire philanthropists supplanted the more normal life and levity they enjoyed in younger years. “Bill is far less comfortable being out in the world,” the person said. “For Bill, it was just so rare he was allowed to do normal things, which I think he really craved.”To Bill, such “normal” things included meeting new people over dinner at Epstein’s home—a break from the tech mogul’s tightly choreographed schedule of events where he’d be seated at the head table with the most prominent guests.“Bill was embarrassed by the attention an entourage would have brought,” the person said. “His entourage was security, and he never looked comfortable with it. With Melinda, it was very imperious, ‘The Queen has arrived’ kind of thing.”Here’s What the Feds Found in Jeffrey Epstein’s Manhattan MansionGates may have visited Epstein, the person said, because Gates “enjoys talking and ideas and basically arguing with people, and he can be a really brutal person to argue with.”“He likes nothing better than to get together and debate or lecture people, or tell everyone what he’s doing with the polio vaccine. He has an ability, unlike any other person I’ve ever met, to lecture to a table of people without stopping for an hour.“Anyone that gave him a stage for a performance and said, ‘Bill, come talk to us about what you’re passionate about,’ that would be something he would enjoy.”Still, the person was surprised about the couple’s divorce announcement earlier this month: “I thought they would have made each other miserable for the rest of their lives.”Meanwhile, a former Gates Foundation employee told The Daily Beast that Gates wanted to get in the good graces of some of Epstein’s professional connections. “My understanding was he wasn’t hanging out with Epstein to get women,” the employee said.“Bill’s not amenable to anyone telling him what he should or shouldn’t do,” the person added. “If anyone were to say, ‘I don’t think you should hang out with [Epstein],’ it would have been Melinda.”The ex-employee said Bill and Melinda appeared to be distant and leading separate lives even more than a decade ago. “This has been going on a long time,” the source said, adding that Melinda was “bitter” and “wasn’t that into him.”“Their body language when they would be together, it was like a Melania and Donald thing: ‘Don’t hold my hand, get on the other side of the table,’” the person said, referring to reports of the former First Lady apparently yanking her hand from then-President Trump during public appearances over the years.Melinda Gates Called Divorce Lawyers in 2019 After Epstein Report: WSJAccording to the ex-employee, Melinda seemed to have a chip on her shoulder because “no one really did see her as an equal to Bill” and her work didn’t get as much media attention. “It really irritated her that people were more into Bill,” they said.Another former employee told The Daily Beast that Epstein was a topic of conversation among staff even in 2017—three years after the men’s friendship reportedly fizzled—because of concerns that Gates’ previous ties to Epstein could harm his reputation.“When you work at the foundation, your whole job in life is to protect and preserve and build up the reputation of Bill and Melinda Gates,” the person said. “I think that’s why it still came up.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.