Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates appears to have hopelessly lost control of his efforts to do damage control on his once-budding bromance with fellow billionaire and notorious serial child abuser Jeffrey Epstein.
Gates and his spokespeople have vehemently denied that he and the financier, who died in a New York jail in 2019 while awaiting trial for sex trafficking of dozens of minors, were ever friends or had any kind of business relationship. But story after story has emerged detailing a years-long connection entailing dozens of visits from 2011-2014, which reportedly infuriated his soon-to-be ex-spouse Melinda Gates and may have been a factor in their impending divorce—and the hits aren’t stopping. According to the Daily Beast, now a former staffer at Gates’ charitable foundation says Gates was attempting to leverage Epstein’s social network to sleaze his way into a Nobel Prize.
Epstein infamously cultivated a large circle of scientists, academics, researchers, tech elites, and other intellectual types, inviting them to lavish get-togethers and showering some with donations—perhaps just to entertain his disturbing scientific ponderings and indulge his ego, or perhaps in part because affluent, well-connected friends could help shield his crimes from public scrutiny. Gates has publicly cited a large number of rich people and others with connections to them in Epstein’s circle as the reason they mingled at all, hoping to lure donors to the Gates Foundation, despite Epstein’s 2008 conviction in Florida for soliciting a minor being widely known.
The ex-staffer, who told the Daily Beast he was part of a team in charge of tracking “reputational risks” to Gates, said that Gates’ motivations were far more egotistical. He wanted one of the most prestigious awards a person can receive:
This person said members of the foundation’s communications team were alerted to Gates’ relationship with Epstein and were told it “was a maneuver to try to get himself a Nobel Peace Prize.” They said the tech mogul had even kept some employees on call on prize day in years past just in case he was awarded the distinction.
... “He [Gates] thought that Jeffrey would be able to help him, that he would know the right people, or some kind of way to massage things, so he could get the Nobel Peace Prize, which is what Bill wants more than anything else in the world,” the staffer said.
As the Daily Beast noted, this perhaps sheds some more light on a March 2013 meeting in Strasbourg, France, first reported by Norwegian paper Dagens Næringsliv in October 2020, between Gates, Epstein, and Thorbjørn Jagland, then the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which picks the winners of the Peace Prize. Also in attendance at the meeting were members of the International Peace Institute, a think tank once run by former Norwegian diplomat Terje Rød-Larsen.
Epstein arrived with Gates to the meeting and introduced the Microsoft co-founder to IPI in connection with a “polio eradication project,” according to the Norwegian paper. At the time, Gates was reportedly under consideration for the prize. Jagland told the paper the meeting was related to the Council of Europe’s work fighting counterfeit vaccines and explained there was no conflict of interest because “Bill Gates was not nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013.”
Rød-Larsen, who was not present at the meeting, resigned from IPI in 2020 after it was revealed the org accepted $650,000 in Epstein-linked funding, including a $375,000 donation from a secret Epstein charity. Rød-Larsen had also accepted a separate $130,000 personal loan from Epstein. IPI also apparently benefited from its connection with Gates: in March 2013, the Gates Foundation gave it a $2.5 million grant, and in March 2014, it gave another $5.5 million grant. Smaller grants in the hundreds of thousands also occurred from 2019 to 2020.
The Daily Beast article doesn’t specifically nail down what Gates hoped to earn the Nobel Prize in the peace category for doing, though the Gates Foundation works on issues like global healthcare and sanitation, poverty reduction, and venture philanthropy. Disregarding the whole consorting with an accused serial rapist to get a trophy thing, it’s probably for the best Gates didn’t succeed. His business empire was built on monopolistic tactics, and some of his philanthropic endeavors in health have been questionable, such as his monstrous push to enshrine intellectual property rights over equitable access in the global coronavirus vaccine rollout (which resulted in what the New Republic described as a “zero-sum vaccination battle that has left much of the world on the losing side.”)
There haven’t been any accounts that Gates partook in the sex trafficking ring run by Epstein, as have been brought up against numerous other Epstein associates such as longtime friend/assistant Ghislaine Maxwell (who is facing charges) and Prince Andrew of Britain (who has issued denials). The meetings between the two reportedly included visits to Epstein properties in New York—once for a late-night gathering—and Paris, as well as flying together on Epstein’s infamous private jet. According to the Daily Beast, Gates was not just aware of Epstein’s 2008 conviction during this entire time period but actively encouraged him to rehabilitate his public image.
Amid the ongoing fallout from the Epstein situation, Gates has separately seen reports emerge about claims he sexually harassed his longtime money manager and on several occasions sought inappropriate, extramarital relationships with Microsoft employees. That included an affair with an engineer, now acknowledged by Gates spokespeople, decades ago that Microsoft execs learned of in a curiously short time frame before Gates’ 2020 departure from the company board.
The Gates Foundation denied to the Daily Beast that Gates was pursuing the Peace Prize via the convicted sex offender and suggested that Epstein had perhaps orchestrated a behind-the-scenes plot to get into his fellow billionaire’s good graces.
“While a Nobel Prize would certainly be a great honor, it is false to state that Bill Gates was ‘obsessed’ with the honor, set it as a goal, or campaigned for it in any way,” a spokesperson wrote to the site. “If Epstein had a plan or motivation to insert himself into any processes related to any awards or honors on behalf of Gates, neither Gates nor anyone he works with was aware of his intentions and they would have rejected any offers for assistance.”
“It’s become clear that Epstein misrepresented the nature of his meetings with Gates while also working to insert himself behind-the-scenes without Gates’s knowledge,” the spokesperson added. “Bill Gates regrets ever meeting with Epstein and recognizes it was an error in judgement to do so.”
The spokesperson also pointed the Daily Beast to a 2019 statement in which it reiterated Gates had “absolutely no business partnership or personal friendship with Epstein” and “never socialized with Epstein or attended parties with him.”