HE seemed like the ultimate computer geek – a bespectacled genius who wrote his first software programme aged just 13.
Now a very different picture of Bill Gates has emerged after he admitted to having had an affair with an employee 20 years ago and is alleged to have pursued other female staff.
The 65-year-old Microsoft founder has also been battered by yet more allegations about his links to paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
There are questions about why he met the now-deceased convicted sex offender despite reportedly knowing of his perverted past.
And the image of the tech guru’s marriage to wife Melinda, which seemed rock-solid when they were a £91billion power couple on a mission to save the planet, has crashed as they head to the divorce courts.
Sources claim that Melinda, 56, was angry that her husband had gone to the billionaire financier Epstein’s New York home and started divorce proceedings once his links to him became public in 2019.
Since the announcement of his divorce just over a fortnight ago, Gates’s early days have come under scrutiny. According to his biographers, he enjoyed naked pool parties with strippers and was a womaniser in his youth.
Journalist James Wallace, who wrote Overdrive: Bill Gates And The Race To Control Cyberspace, claimed: “A lot of those Microsoft kids were young guys in pizza-stained T-shirts working on software code.
“Then they would have some pretty wild parties, where they would go out and get strippers in Seattle and bring them over to Gates’s home.
“He wasn’t a choir boy back then.” Gates co-founded Microsoft in 1975, aged just 20, with his childhood friend Paul Allen after dropping out of university.
He built up the firm into the biggest soft- ware company in the world and Gates is now worth an estimated £93billion. Wallace’s book described the alleged naked parties at Gates’s home.
He said the computer whizz 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”.
The journalist also alleges that his “womanising” put a strain on his early courtship of Melinda, who he started dating in 1987.
He wrote: “He continued to play the field for a while, especially when he was out of town on business, when he would frequently hit on female journalists who covered Microsoft.
“Melinda was well aware of Gates’s womanising, and their relationship ran hot and cold. At one point they broke up for nearly a year.”
The pair eventually wed in 1994 in Hawaii and Gates is said to have boasted to pals that he had not strayed during their marriage.
But this week it emerged that he had cheated on Melinda in 2000 by seeing one of his employees.
Later the Microsoft board investigated his liaisons because dating a member of staff could be considered “inappropriate”.
A spokesperson for Bill Gates confirmed to The Sun: “There was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably. Bill’s decision to transition off the board was in no way related to this matter.”
HURT THEIR CREDIBILITY
It can be said for certain that Gates had flirted with at least one employee prior to that incident, because he started dating Melinda when she was a young product manager at Microsoft.
The New York Times claimed on Sunday that it was a pattern of behaviour that would be repeated in the decades to come.
An anonymous female member of staff at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has handed out almost £40billion in charitable grants since 2000, alleged he had told her in hushed tones: “I want to see you. Will you have dinner with me?”
Another report alleged Gates had asked a Microsoft employee out in 2006 after she had delivered a work presentation.
The New York Times claimed: “Multiple people said that, during their marriage, Mr Gates engaged in work-related behaviour that they said was inappropriate for a person at the helm of a major publicly traded company.”
His spokesperson denied that Gates had mistreated staff.
Meanwhile, further details about the extent of Gates’s relationship with Epstein have perplexed many observers who wonder why the philanthropist would have anything to do with a convicted sex offender.
The two men first got to know each other in January 2011, three years after Epstein was convicted of procuring a child for prostitution.
Gates went to the financial adviser’s giant 40-room home on New York’s Upper East Side at 8pm and spent several hours there.
Also present was Dr Eva Andersson-Dubin — a former Miss Sweden and ex-girlfriend of Epstein — along with her 15-year-old daughter.
Epstein later bragged about the meeting in emails to a pal, seen by the New York Times, writing: “Bill’s great.”
Meanwhile, Gates reportedly informed colleagues that he found the financier’s lifestyle “kind of intriguing”. It was the first of a series of meetings between the computer genius and the sex offender — including a trip on his private jet.
MARRIAGE ‘IRRETRIEVABLY BROKEN’
Gates admits that it was “an error in judgement” to have met the disgraced businessman, and his spokesperson says the “intriguing” comment was a reference to Epstein’s decor.
There are allegations, denied by Microsoft, that Gates even asked Epstein for advice on ending his marriage to Melinda.
Feminist Melinda was especially angered by his dealings with creepy Epstein — and is said to have begun speaking to divorce lawyers after an exposé about the friendship was published in 2019.
Speaking of Melinda’s decision to divorce, another source told People magazine: “Epstein is definitely a sore spot. That’s a long time for issues to fester.
“She was totally opposed to what she considered shady dealings and some other issues he wanted to pursue in the business area.
She was not afraid to speak up about it, either.” Melinda eventually filed for divorce from her husband of 27 years this month, claiming in court paperwork that her marriage was “irretrievably broken”.
They said in a joint statement: “We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.” The pair, who have three grown-up children, are now engaged in discussions with lawyers about the split, which is destined to be one of the costliest separations of all time.
No reason for the separation has been given, despite leaks — seemingly from Melinda’s side — suggesting that all the family were “furious” at Gates.
According to reports in the US, it was Melinda who brought Gates’s dealing with Epstein to an end in September 2013. She is said to have visited Epstein’s New York townhouse with her husband and expressed how uncomfortable she was with him cosying up to the sex convict.
Epstein killed himself in jail in August 2019, weeks after being arrested on a slew of new sex trafficking charges.
There is no suggestion of wrongdoing on the part of Bill Gates and he denies attending any Epstein parties.
A spokesperson for Gates insisted that he had met Epstein because he “made claims of being able to bring billions of dollars into philanthropy”.
Bill and Melinda have drawn up a “separation contract” and he has already given billions in stocks to his estranged wife.
An unnamed former employee has claimed the couple lived in separate wings of their £70million Washington mansion for the past years.