Microsoft Corporation co-founder and billionaire Bill Gates says he was not looking for love in all the wrong places when he hung out with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
“It was a huge mistake to spend time with him, to give him the credibility of being there,” Gates said during an interview with CNN on Wednesday, when the subject of their palling around was broached.
Gates told CNN host Anderson Cooper that connecting with Epstein, who was facing accusations of sex trafficking when he died in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019, was a high-minded attempt to secure funding for his health care projects.
“I had several dinners with him, you know, hoping that what he said about getting billions of philanthropy for global health through contacts that he had might emerge,” Gates said.
Gates said his hopes were dashed, however, leading to a breakup.
“When it looked like that wasn’t a real thing, that relationship ended.”
The Wall Street Journal reported in May that publicity over the Epstein-Gates connection was a catalyst for Gates’ ex-wife Melinda French Gates beginning the process of getting a divorce from the Microsoft mogul. The divorce became final this week.
When Cooper asked about that subject, Gates sidestepped.
“It’s a time of reflection, and at this point, I need to go forward,” Gates said. “Within the family, we’ll heal the best that we can.”
The connection between Gates and Epstein has been plumbed by multiple media outlets.
The New York Times reportedly obtained a 2011 email sent by Gates to colleagues, which said Epstein’s “lifestyle is very different and kind of intriguing although it would not work for me.”
In May, The Daily Beast reported — based entirely on two sources who are not named — that Epstein offered Gates advice about getting out of his marriage and that Gates reveled in gatherings hosted by Epstein.
“Gates found freedom in Epstein’s lair, where he met a rotating cast of bold-faced names and discussed worldly issues in between rounds of jokes and gossip,” the report said, calling it a “‘men’s club’ atmosphere that irritated Melinda.”
The Daily Beast characterized the tech guru’s attendance at Epstein’s events as a form of seeking refuge from his wife, and also perhaps of spiting her.
“‘[It’s] not an overstatement. Going to Jeffrey’s was a respite from his marriage. It was a way of getting away from Melinda,” one of the outlet’s reported sources said. The Daily Beast referred to this source as “one of the people who was at several of the meetings.” The source called Epstein and Gates “very close.”
A statement from a Gates spokesman, however, poured cold water on the report.
“Your characterization of his meetings with Epstein and others about philanthropy is inaccurate, including who participated. Similarly, any claim that Gates spoke of his marriage or Melinda in a disparaging manner is false,” the statement said.
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