Bill Gates’ golfing buddies were among the first to learn that his marriage was in the rough.
The billionaire Microsoft mogul described his relationship with wife Melinda as “loveless” to his links pals long before the couple’s divorce was revealed publicly, The Post has learned.
“Bill did talk to his close friends on the golf course,” said a source.
“He told them a while back that the marriage was loveless, that it had been over for some time and they were living separate lives.”
Gates is a golf fanatic, who wed his now-estranged wife next to the par-3, 12th hole on the golf course at the Manele Bay Hotel in Hawaii.
He is even finding comfort in golf while his romantic world collapses, as he is reportedly holed up at The Vintage Club in Indian Wells, California, which bills itself as “one of the United States’ most prestigious” golf clubs.
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Meanwhile, The Post has learned that the decision to divorce was hard on Melinda because of her strong Roman Catholic faith.
“She wants to get an annulment from the Vatican following the civil divorce, I’m told,” said a source who has worked with Melinda.
Melinda, however, was very upset with her uber-wealthy hubby because of his connections to the wealthy late paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
“The split is no surprise to me,” said another source.
“And any friendship with Epstein would have been a bone of contention for Melinda. There is no way that Melinda would have wanted to spend time with Epstein.”
Epstein’s former butler once claimed the Gates’s had visited Epstein’s lavish $8 million Parisian apartment near the Arc de Triomphe, according to a 2019 article in FranceInfo.
“I served crowned heads, diplomats, businessmen and politicians,” said the butler, who only identified himself as Gabriel.
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Among the powerful guests he listed were Bill and Melinda Gates.
When asked about a Parisian visit, a source close to Melinda insisted that she had absolutely never been to Epstein’s French home, while a source who knows Gates said the couple had never stayed overnight at any of Epstein’s properties.
Following reports that Gates had travelled on Epstein’s private jet in 2013, his spokeswoman, Bridgitt Arnold, said the software mogul and Epstein had met multiple times to discuss philanthropy.
She said in 2019, “Bill Gates regrets ever meeting with Epstein and recognises it was an error in judgment to do so”.
Epstein died in jail in August 2019 awaiting trial on federal charges related to sex trafficking.
RELATED: Melinda Gates hinted at marriage tensions with Bill in 2019
The Wall Street Journal this week reported Melinda had been consulting divorce lawyers since 2019.
Although the couple hasn’t said what prompted the split, sources including a former employee of their charity confirmed that Melinda was unhappy about Epstein.
The couple, who has three children, announced they were ending their marriage last week. In a joint statement posted on Twitter, they said, “we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives”.
Melinda’s legal team includes New York divorce lawyer Robert Stephan Cohen. Cohen has represented Michael Bloomberg, Henry Kravis and Ivana Trump in their divorces.
Gates also has some star lawyers, including Ronald Olson, a partner at the firm Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP who has represented Mark Zuckerberg, among others.
Olson is a board member at Berkshire Hathaway, where he sat alongside Gates and Warren Buffett.
Melinda’s oldest child, daughter Jennifer, gave her mum a public display of backing on Mother’s Day, posting a photo of her siblings and mum together, and writing: “Our queen, hero and mum – every day.”
Reps for Bill Gates and Melinda Gates declined to comment.
This story originally appeared on the New York Post and has been republished with permission