Warren Buffett exits the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation amid their divorce drama

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Warren Buffet is one of the richest people in the world. He’s probably also one of the most low-key billionaires ever. While he amassed a fortune exceeding $100 billion, he still lives in a nice-but-not-opulent family home in Omaha, the same home he’s resided in for decades. He’s not swigging pricey champagne or flying to Japan just to have a steak. For years now, he’s been doing the Giving Pledge, where he’s pledged 99% of his wealth to charity, and he’s encouraged other billionaires to do the same. Mackenzie Scott has followed in his footsteps in her own way.

Anyway, for the better part of two decades, Buffett has been something of a surrogate father figure and mentor to Bill Gates. In 2006, Buffet told the world that he would donate, over the years to come, the bulk of his money to the Gates Foundation, because he really believed in the work the foundation was doing. At this point – in 2021 – he’s given away about half of his fortune, most of it to the Gates Foundation. And that was enough to get himself a seat on the board of trustees for the foundation. Only Bill and Melinda’s marriage has blown up spectacularly and all of Bill’s dirty deeds are coming to light. So… Warren Buffet is getting the hell out of there.

Warren Buffett is resigning as a trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, one of five organizations to which he also pledged a $4.1 billion distribution on Wednesday. Buffett announced his departure in a statement that prompted a response from Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman, who said he has been involved in “active” discussions with Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates as to how best “provide long-term stability and sustainability for the foundation’s governance and decision-making” following the couple’s divorce announcement last month.

Buffett, the 90-year-old chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, has served as a trustee of the Gates Foundation for the past 15 years, though he said he’d been “inactive…for years.”

“I am now resigning from that post, just as I have done at all corporate boards other than Berkshire’s,” he wrote. “The CEO of BMG is Mark Suzman, an outstanding recent selection who has my full support. My goals are 100% in sync with those of the foundation, and my physical participation is in no way needed to achieve these goals.”

Buffett – who has an estimated fortune of $104.4 billion, according to Forbes – also announced that he will be distributing $4.1 billion among the five different foundations to which he previously pledged to give all of his Berkshire Hathaway shares.

Suzman said in an email to Gates Foundation employees that his organization would receive a $3.2 billion gift from Buffett on Wednesday, bringing Buffett’s total donated sum to nearly $33 billion.

“Today is a milestone for me,” Buffett said in his statement. “In 2006, I pledged to distribute all of my Berkshire Hathaway shares – more than 99% of my net worth – to philanthropy. With today’s $4.1 billion distribution, I’m halfway there.”

Buffett did not offer a reason for his departure from the foundation, but said he felt as though “society has a use for my money; I don’t.” He noted that he has “relatively little” income, as most of his wealth comes from his Berkshire holdings, but that those other assets allow him to live “as I wish. My needs are simple; what made me happy at 40 makes me happy at 90,” he wrote.

[From People]

Without a doubt, I believe Buffett wanted to get out while the getting was good. There would be no good reason for a well-respected and admired 90-year-old billionaire to spend his twilight years being dragged into the ins and outs of the divorce of his two billionaire friends. Buffett is making it clear he still believes in the work of the foundation, and I think the message he’s sending to Bill and Melinda is that the foundation is the only thing worth saving from the fiery wreckage of their divorce. And honestly, that will mean a lot to both of them and they both listen to Buffett’s advice very closely. But yeah, he wants no part of their shenanigans. He wants to golf and hang out in Omaha and just chill.

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25 Responses to “Warren Buffett exits the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation amid their divorce drama”

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  1. Gold ladder says:

    Warren Buffett’s personal life wasn’t exactly conventional. Let’s just say he, his first wife and current wife were sending joint Christmas Cards.

    • Darla says:

      A throuple?

      • EnormousCoat says:

        I’m reading now that he had an open marriage with his first wife Susan, who actually introduced him to his second wife. The article says Susan left him in 1978, and though they didn’t divorce, she gave him permission to date. They didn’t live together but attended public functions together. Sounds like they were amicable, but not romantic.

      • Darla says:

        Ohhh, that’s interesting, thanks!

    • Chaine says:


    • Caroline says:

      I’m from the neighborhood where he lives in Omaha, and his “unconventional” relationship is well known. His first wife wanted her own career and didn’t like living here, so she moved to San Francisco. She ended up recording several records, and then was diagnosed with cancer. There’s a really good episode about him on HBO Max right now – I can’t remember the name. The whole family is very philanthropic, and just really good people.

    • Guest says:

      It wasn’t exactly his choice. His first wife left him for her tennis coach. She then set him up with his second wife because she could tell he was taking the separation badly as she had been the one taking care of him. However, his first wife didn’t want to divorce him and for public engagements, she would always claim to be his wife even though they were living separate lives. After the first wife passed, he married the second wife who he had been living with since the first wife left. For all of his vices, womanizing has not been one of Buffet’s.

    • Drea says:

      I mean, that’s fun gossip about Buffett, and yes, unconventional. But, unless I’m missing something major, it doesn’t equate to sexual harassment of employees or ANYTHING to do with Epstein. I don’t blame Buffett for getting out of that mess.

  2. LaraW” says:

    He should add Archewell to his list. They have clearly demonstrated they know how to direct donations, and I really like the fact that they promote lesser known, local charitable organizations that work directly within their communities and provide real, tangible support to real people with faces.

    Sometimes these huge foundations, while they do good work, feel a bit abstract to me. They definitely have their place— working to provide opportunities and accessible education to children in STEM fields, etc. And admittedly I am making uneducated, completely ignorant statements because I don’t follow Mackenzie Scott’s donations to charities or know specifics on the work of the Gates Foundation. Case in point: I can’t think of a major charitable organization in the arts.

    I should probably stop talking now— but I would definitely appreciate CBers providing more information on the tangible work these large foundations support. CB is where I get half my internet education! 😉

    • Darla says:


      • LaraW” says:

        Darla, I have definitely picked up many things from you. 🥰 At the moment I can’t think of a specific example, but I know there have been comments where I’m like “that’s interesting, didn’t know that!”

      • Darla says:

        I’m sorry for being snarky, I just very actively avoid royal stuff and I laughed that it was on this thread. I can’t help myself sometimes. 🙂

      • LaraW” says:

        Totally understand about avoiding royal stuff. I realized the extent of my ignorance with respect to the landscape of charitable organizations while I was writing the post. I completely would not mind if Buffet designated his new charity of choice towards public broadcasting, or conservation! Which, maybe he does already. 😎

        Half my internet education comes from CB because I have a precious window of time from 7am to 9am (930 if I push it) before the rest of my day is dedicated to working nonstop.

      • Mette says:

        Darla I laughed too!

      • BayTampaBay says:

        @Darla – Even on the Royal threads I have learned so much from my fellow CBers and much of this is NOT about Royals.

        The best way, IMAO, to learn about East Bumfuk is to converse with someone from or living in East Bumfuk. Celebitchy has allowed me to do all the international conversing that I care to converse.

    • Eurydice says:

      The Walton Foundation (Walmart) gives a lot to arts and culture – also, Mellon Foundation, Annenberg, Lilly, Kresge, Ford, Bank of America. Gates gives to the arts, but mostly health care in many countries and education in the US. Mackenzie Scott has given a lot to HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and to racial justice organizations.

      • LaraW” says:

        Thanks for the info! Really appreciate it!

      • notasugarhere says:

        Give money to those shady billionaires (Walmart) who massively fund the insurrection-supporting US Republican party? Make a better decision.

  3. ib says:

    Hi, philanthropy professional here. If CBers want to give to causes, by far the smallest share of philanthropic dollars by cause (ie arts, social services, education, healthcare, veterans, social justice, disaster relief, environment, to name a few big broad categories) goes to the environment and environmental issues — and the majority of charitable contributions made by Americans under that broad category are actually for animal welfare organizations (animal shelters etc). I can provide link to data if of interest. Really scary considering how little is going towards protecting the environment and fighting climate change, in proportion to the existential size of this threat

    • MF1 says:

      Yes, please do provide a link! And if you know of any really good environmental organizations, that’d be helpful too!

      • Saucy&Sassy says:

        ib, one of the issues for me is how do I know how legitimate the charity is. I also want to know what percentage they keep for administrative purposes. One of the reasons I appreciate the Sussexes so much is that I believe they have done all of the research, so that I can feel comfortable giving to the organizations they suggest. So, if you can give us charities on which the research has been done, please let us know. That would be a huge help and very appreciated.

  4. Concern Fae says:

    Although Buffett is by far the best of a bad lot, the Omaha homestead is by no means his only home. He has very swank digs elsewhere.

  5. Steph says:

    His house gave out full size candy bars in the 80s. Our parents would drive us to the rich neighborhood (which his house was located in), and we’d run straight to it for the big bars. Lol! It’s not uncommon to catch him out and about with Paul McCartney or Bono in Dundee getting ice cream.

    It becomes a little bit of a game. “Where’s Warren” if you will.