Shock waves were sent around the world when the most powerful philanthropic couple, Bill and Melinda Gates, announced they were divorcing after 27 years of marriage.
Following their announcement, unusual details about their marriage from a 1997 Time magazine profile resurfaced. Gates, now 65, revealed a questionable “arrangement” he had with his ex-girlfriend, Ann Winblad, while married to Melinda. Each spring, Gates and his former gal pal spent “a long weekend” together at her Outer Banks, North Carolina, beach residence, enjoying several activities including long walks on the beach.
“We can play putt-putt while discussing biotechnology,” Gates said of his yearly trip, which he had done for decades.
The Post obtained photos of their secluded Outer Banks hideout home — now used as a “retreat” for “beach lovers” — where they reportedly spent private time together annually during his marriage. The escape was famously part of an “arrangement,” according to Time, long before the high-profile divorce.
Property records reveal the beach house — located in Corolla, just north of the Outer Banks — still shows Winblad as a trustee. The modest home, which was initially built in 1982, has been used as a rental on and off since 2016.
The oceanfront vacation home, described as a “Royal Retreat for Beach Lovers” in the rental listing, is quite a humble and unassuming getaway for one of the richest men in the world.
Pegged as “Castle Sween,” the home is made up of four bedrooms and two bathrooms and has direct private beach access. The home spans 1,440 square feet and sits on nearly an acre of land.
For a three-night weekend getaway, staying at this rental can cost upward of $2,700 — and it appears to be in hot demand as the pandemic rages on. The next availability is reserved for the second week of September.
The main level is the central gathering area of the home, with a great room that includes a living, dining and kitchen space, as well as two bedrooms that boast a queen bed and two sets of bunks. Two more bedrooms are found at the top level, as well as a loft with a daybed and pristine ocean views around every corner.
The photos of the home were taken by TruPlace, which launched in 2003 and serves as a marketing company to help owners sell or rent properties using their unique virtual tour format.
In 1997, Gates revealed to Time that he had spent a weekend with Winblad at the beach bungalow every year for “more than a decade” as a way to annually reconnect with an old friend.
In the same interview, Winblad, now 70, alluded to their deep connection. “We share our thoughts about the world and ourselves, and we marvel about how, as two young overachievers, we began a great adventure on the fringes of a little-known industry and it landed us at the center of an amazing universe,” she said.
Gates and Winblad had split in 1987, partly because she was five years older than he and was ready to settle down, according to the article. But they remained close friends and he even sought her approval when it came time to marry Melinda.
“When I was off on my own thinking about marrying Melinda I called Ann and asked for her approval,” Gates told Time magazine.
“I said she’d be a good match for him because she had intellectual stamina,” Winblad added.
Bill and Melinda released coordinated statements Monday about their breakup, saying they put “a great deal of thought and a lot of work” into their relationship but determined they can “no longer” find a way to “grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”
However, the couple — one of the richest and most powerful in the country, who had made a mark in the world through their humanitarian efforts and foundation — said they would stay on as co-chairs and trustees of their foundation, which they started in 2000. On the same day they announced their divorce, Gates transferred $1.8 billion in stock to Melinda.
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