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Before Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Jack Dorsey, there was only one true mega-rich billionaire tech nerd in town: Bill Gates.

The richest man in the world for a grand total of 19 years, the Microsoft founder is today known for being one of the world’s foremost philanthropists, having pledged to give away the majority of his wealth before his death.

Through the Gates Foundation, Bill Gates invests in causes such as climate change, poverty, and more recently, research into treatments and vaccines for the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, all this charity doesn’t mean he doesn’t like to splurge, as the tale of Gate’s spectacular rise to planetary wealth shows.
From a vast property empire to a huge supercar collection, Gates’ enormous bank balance lets him do almost anything he wants. Here’s how the world’s former richest person got his money—and how he spends it.

Bill Gates was born into a relatively wealthy family with multiple homes around Washington

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Like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Apple founder Steve Jobs, Bill Gates dropped out of university to start his business. Microsoft was founded in 1975 with Gates’ childhood friend, Paul Allen.

With 49 percent of the company in his name by the time it hit the stock market in 1986, Gates became the world’s youngest billionaire almost overnight (Zuckerberg would later take the title in 2008).

By 1995, Gates was the world’s richest person with £6 billion ($9.2 billion) to his name. He got there mostly through ownership of Microsoft stocks, as well as through investing in lucrative firms like Berkshire Hathaway.

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Bill Gates first became a millionaire at age 31

Bill Gates first became a millionaire at age 31

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Being so wealthy at an early age, Gates began splurging his cash on his favourite things. His first big purchase was his first car, a Porsche 911.

Gates reportedly used it to speed through the desert to ‘clear his head’, and easily paid off the dozens of speeding tickets he received. His love of supercars continues today. He reportedly owns a Tesla Model X, a BMW 7, numerous Mercedes, and of course, many different types of Porsches.

When desert speeding gets boring, Gates stops by his private jet or rents superyachts.

Gates was the world's richest man for many years but gave away a lot of his wealth to charity

Gates was the world’s richest man for many years but gave away a lot of his wealth to charity

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As well as owning a private jet, a luxury car collection, and a 66,000 square foot Washington estate worth £94 million, Gates recently spent £32 million on a massive house in California.

The Washington estate, which served as his lakeside family home, has 24 bathrooms and seven bedrooms. It also has all of the billionaire mod-cons you might expect, from a trampoline room to a massive gym and beach sand shipped over from Hawaii. It even has an underwater sound system, an art-deco cinema, priceless artworks, and more screens than you can shake an Apple store at.

Melinda reportedly wasn’t that keen on the massive house, as Bill had started constructing it before she moved in. She hired an architect to make some design changes, and years later said she looked forward to downsizing.

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“We won’t have that house forever. I’m actually really looking forward to the day that Bill and I live in a 1,500-square foot house. Just to be clear, the house was being built before I came on the scene. But I take responsibility for it.”

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 12: Bill and Melinda Gates in the CBS Toyota Greenroom before their appearance on CBS THIS MORNING, Feb 12, 2019. (Photo by Michele Crowe/CBS via Getty Images)

Bill and Melinda Gates’ divorce was one of the most expensive in history

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After being married for 27 years, Bill and Melinda announced they were getting divorced in 2021. Splitting up their wealth after 27 years will no doubt be tricky, especially with their divorce being the second most expensive in history (after Jeff Bezos and Mackenzie Scott).

The couple never signed a pre-nuptial agreement before getting married. While the divorce petition filed last May said that they will divide their assets according to a separation agreement, the pair are due in court in April 2022 to hash things out, with both of them responsible for their own future debts.

After they’ve cleared things up legally, the financial split will become clearer. If they split things 50/50, Bill Gates could drop to 17th on the global rich list.

Whatever happens., Bill has said in the past that his children won’t get much money at all, leaving them a measly $10 million (£7.5 million) each in his will.

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