Bill Gates' divorce could bring an end to his secret life as the largest landowner in the United States.
Bill Gates' divorce from wife Melinda may jeopardize his relatively unknown status as the largest landowner in America.
Though Gates made his $130 billion fortune in technology, he still owns nearly 270,000 acres (422 square miles) of land in more than a dozen states, according to a January investigation by The Land Report.
The overwhelming majority — about 242,000 acres (378 square miles) — is farmland, the outlet said. That's at least 50,000 acres more than the family with the second-largest holdings.
“Bill Gates, Microsoft's co-founder, has an alter ego: Farmer Bill, the man who owns more farmland in America than everyone else,” wrote the magazine's publisher, Eric O'Keefe.
The land is now likely to be included in the couple's divorce settlement, since they agreed in court documents that they lacked a prenuptial agreement during their 27-year marriage.
Michael Larson oversaw the vast farmland portfolio for at least 25 years, the report said. He also oversaw the Gateses' personal portfolio and the portfolio for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
They own over 16,000 acres in Washington, but their largest holding is in Louisiana, where they own 69,071 acres (108 square miles), according to The Land Study.
Additionally, they own nearly 48,000 acres in Arkansas, about 25,750 acres in Arizona, and more than 20,000 acres in Nebraska, according to the report.
The Gateses previously expressed an interest in agriculture when their foundation established a non-profit agricultural research institute called Gates Ag One in the greater St. Louis region last year.
Along with farmland, the former couple is believed to have purchased a "major stake" in 24,800 acres of transitional land on the western outskirts of Phoenix in 2017, the article noted. The land has been earmarked for a "brand-new metropolis" of up to 80,000 homes.
Larson made the investments through Cascade Investment LLC, which at the time refused to comment on the Gateses' holdings.