Tech billionaires and successful business people have become celebrities in their own right. While it can be argued that this has been the case for a long time, people have always been fascinated with wealthy and successful people, there is a reason, after all, that Greek and Shakespearean tragedies were about royalty and not Sam the peasant, and these tech billionaires are the new "dramatic royalty."
Which could be why the reported secret life of Bill Gates is captivating people's attention.
According to biographer James Wallace, Bill Gates had a secret life that would shock many.
Gates is the quintessential nerd. He's a tech business guru. He doesn't have a particularly trendy haircut. He never has. His suits don't seem like they were tailored to be form-fitting. Even the glasses he would rock in his youth looked like something a wardrobe designer would slap on Geek #2 straight out of central casting.
He's been pictured as the stark opposite to "hip" tech figures like the late Steve Jobs, or even someone like Elon Musk, or Jeff Bezos. The billionaire founder of Amazon shaves his head, works out his shoulders and at times looks like a Bond Villain who takes care of himself. (Heck, he's even having affairs with female helicopter pilots.)
Musk had a kid with an eccentric musician and named him after the equation Matt Damon solves in Good Will Hunting. Steve Jobs would get a new SL mercedes every few months just to avoid having a license plate.
So stories about nude pool parties and flirting with journalists might seem right in line with other tech billionaires. But Bill Gates? A guy who's definitely been called a goober, un-ironically, before? Not in a million years.
According to a Times article covering a biography of the Microsoft founder written by James Wallace, Gates has a carefully crafted public image to cover up some of his hard-partying ways.
In his biographies about Gates, per the Daily Mail, Wallace claims that because Microsoft "spoon-fed" journalists stories about their tech products that were coming out, giving them insider information, they didn’t report on the wild bachelor parties that Microsoft’s boyish chairman would throw in his Seattle home — for which Gates would "visit one of Seattle’s all-nude nightclubs and hire dancers to come to his home and swim naked with his friends in his indoor pool."
Wallace goes on to say that all of this happened while Gates was newly married to his now ex-wife Melinda French. According to the writer, Bill was still flirting with and pursuing extra-marital relationships with other women, something French was cognizant of. "[She was] well aware of Gates’s womanizing and consequently the relationship ran hot and cold. At one point they broke up for nearly a year, reportedly because Gates refused to make any kind of commitment," Wallace says.
Gates' "secret life" also includes a ton of "frivolous" expenditures that would make lavish spenders wince.
Like the fact that he'd regularly get sand from St. Lucia transported on a barge to put on his own private beach in Medina, Wash., or that he dropped over $30 million in Leonardo da Vinci and Winslow Homer paintings.
The Times article also reports that fellow members of Gates' golf club have heard the philanthropist and businessman say that his marriage with Melinda has been "loveless" for some time. It also mentioned that while still dating Melinda in 1994 prior to their marriage, he'd reportedly often spend time with "old flame" Ann Winblad, which included private getaways in North Carolina.
It can be argued that the salacious headlines about Gates' personal life is just an attempt at grabbing eyes in the wake of his extremely public divorce. Gates is often vilified, especially when it comes to vaccines and his charity work, and one has to wonder why there seems to be so much hate against the man.
Sure, the Blue Screen of Death is annoying, but can his purported failings as a husband and conspiracy theories about microchipping really erase $50 billion worth of charitable donations since 1994 as of this writing? He's also been working tirelessly on eradicating malaria, and it's estimated that he's already helped save some hundreds of thousands of lives through the work that the Gates' Foundation has done.
Personally — and I'm not saying it excuses any of the heartache he may have caused those close to him through his actions — but I know plenty of people who are horrible in their relationships, and they're spending their money on season tickets for Jets games. Saving lives is the last thing on their mind.