After her divorce last year, Melinda French Gates walked away with at least $6.3 billion worth of stock in various companies that had been transferred to her by ex-husband Bill Gates. She’s already sold nearly a quarter of that amount.
According to Forbes’ review of Securities and Exchange Commission filings, French Gates has unloaded roughly $1.44 billion worth of stock (before taxes) since December 2021. At the end of last year, she sold 3.67 million shares of car retailer AutoNation for an estimated $429 million, leaving her with a 4% stake in the company. Around the same time, she also sold around $468 million worth of Canadian National Railway stock and $3.6 million worth of Coca-Cola FEMSA shares. In her most recent sale, which was reported in July, she sold another 4.63 million shares of Canadian National Railway for $538 million. She now owns 2.2% of the railway firm, down from 3.3%.
As of early September 2021, not long after French Gates received the share transfers from Bill Gates, she was worth $6.3 billion.
A representative from Pivotal Ventures, French Gates’ investment and incubation company, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes about Melinda’s stock sales.
It’s unclear what French Gates will do with the cash. The Wall Street Journalearlier this year that she is no longer committing the majority of her wealth to the Gates Foundation, the eponymous philanthropy she and Bill founded in 2000, where she remains a co-chair. It’s possible some of the money is going into Pivotal, which describes itself as doing “high-impact investments, partnerships and advocacy.” This year, Pivotal participated in a $53 million Series B round for Ellevest, a woman-focused robo-investor platform, adding to its 2019 investment in the company. The company also became a limited partner at venture firms Magnify Capital and Chingona Ventures.
French Gates reaffirmed her commitment to give away the majority of her fortune in her solo Giving Pledge, which she updated late last year.
“I recognize the absurdity of so much wealth being concentrated in the hands of one person, and I believe the only responsible thing to do with a fortune this size is give it away—as thoughtfully and impactfully as possible,” she wrote.
Bill Gates, for his part, is also doubling down on giving away his fortune. He transferred nearly $6.5 billion worth of Canadian National Railway and farm equipment manufacturer Deere & Co. shares to the Gates Foundation last month. It’s part of a fresh $20 billion commitment to the foundation he announced in July.