How does the richest man on earth spend his money?

What Bill Gates does with his $80 billion fortune…

Neil Churchill November 20, 2014

At the time of writing, Bill Gates is the richest man on earth. If he was a country, he'd be the 84th richest nation. He has a net worth of $82.2 billion, largely thanks of course to his Microsoft empire, and while he may have stepped down from the role of chairman at his own company earlier this year, you can be sure the world's most famous engineer will continue to see his fortune rise.

But how does he go about spending his 80-plus billion dollars? Are there even enough things in the world to splurge that amount of money on? Well for this tech geek, charity does not begin at home...


Along with his wife, he set up the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the year 2000, with the aim to help fund and improve healthcare and poverty in the poorest parts of the world. Last year the foundation's assets were reported to be valued at more than $34.6 billion. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In 2007, the couple were named the second-most generous philanthropists in America, giving over $28 billion to charity.

In 2010, along with legendary investor Warren Buffet and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Gates signed a commitment to donate at least half of his wealth to charity over the course of time. Bill and Melinda have previously said they will donate 95 per cent of their wealth to charitable causes.

Polio - $1.8bn
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will spend $1.8 billion over the next six years to eradicate polio, in much the same way smallpox was in the 1970s.

Malaria research - $258m
Describing malaria as the 'forgotten epidemic', Gates has pledged $258 million to the research and development of a vaccine and mosquito control methods. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Renewable energy - $35m
The foundation has invested nearly $35 million in the R&D of a new battery technology (AHI) which is hoped to curb the world's dependency on traditional energy sources.

Super bananas - $10m
Gates has given $10 million to fund genetically enhanced bananas enriched with Vitamin A. Bananas are a popular food source across Africa but they lack important nutrients including said vitamin, and the low intake is blamed for poor immune systems and blindness.

Ebola - $5.7m
Just this week, the foundation pledged $5.7 million to fund plasma blood trials to try and find a treatment and vaccine for the Ebola virus. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. However despite all his philanthropic efforts, Gates still has enough cash left over to enjoy some of the ultra fine things in life - and why shouldn't he?


The Gates family home - all 66,000 square feet of it - sits on the banks of Lake Washington in Seattle, half-buried into the hillside. Nicknamed Xanadu 2.0, in 2006 it was valued at $125 million, meaning Gates pays an annual property tax of almost $1 million. Bill Gates' house. Inside, there is a 60-foot swimming pool with an underwater music system; a 2,500 sq ft gym and a 1,000 sq ft dining room.

The island
Xanadu 2.0 is not the biggest asset in Gates' property portfolio however. That title belongs to The Grand Bugue Island - the largest island in the republic of Belize. The piece of land has beautiful beaches, a huge variety of marine life, specialised areas for saltwater fishes and a forest. Unsurprisingly, it also offers attractive opportunities for growth and return on investor funds.

The second home
In truth, Gates probably has multiple residences the world over, but his Mediterranean-style home in Florida stands out for a sentimental reason. He bought the property for $8.7 million last year after renting it for his daughter's equestrian competitions. It comes with several horse-friendly facilities including a 20-stall barn and a show jumping arena.


A common tribute with the world's wealthiest men, Gates is also a collector of things. In 1994 he paid over $30 million at auction for Codex Leicester - a collection of writings by Leonardo da Vinci. We imagine that's kept somewhere in the huge home library, where a quotation from The Great Gatsby is engraved on the ceiling. Codex Leicester. Art
He also has an extensive art collection, which includes Winslow Homer's 'Lost on the Grand Banks' that Gates paid an American record $36 million for in 1998. He also bought George Bellows's painting 'Polo Crowd' for $28 million in 1999, and Frederick Childe Hassam's work ‘Room of Flowers’ for $20 million.

A need for speed
Gates isn't just mad for computer software, he also has a penchant for cars. Over the years he's owned a Porsche 930 turbo, a Porsche Carrera cabriolet 964, a Jaguar XJ6 and a Ferrari 348. He also owns a private jet. But that's not really a surprise now, is it?