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The home Bill and Melinda Gates share in Seattle is the most mega of mansions — so when the couple announced their decision to part ways last week after 27 years of marriage, it left many wondering what may happen to the palatial pad.
Nicknamed "Xanadu 2.0" — a reference to the massive, fictional estate in the movie Citizen Kane — the Gates family mansion is a 66,000-square-foot compound in the suburbs of Seattle, Washington. Though this property is their most notable, the pair have also bought multiple homes together over the years, including, most recently, a $43 million home in Del Mar, California, in April 2020, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Sprawling along the Lake Washington waterfront, their main home is worth an estimated $131 million, according to the New York Times, and the billionaire Microsoft co-founder, 65, and the philanthropist and former general manager at Microsoft, 56, own several parcels of land surrounding the property to keep it invisible to onlookers.
The Gateses have rarely shown or discussed their home over the years — but there are a few facts that have been documented or the couple themselves have let slip.
Bill Gates, Melinda Gates
A 2008 profile of Melinda in Fortune (her first solo profile ever), revealed that Bill had been working on designing the home prior to their relationship, and it was far more of a tech-focused bachelor pad than a family home before she entered his life.
Construction on the home — a series of pavilions designed by architects James Cutler and Peter Bohlin — was even temporarily halted for six months for the pair to determine if it was a place they would be able to comfortably share and raise a family, according to the publication. Melinda eventually hired interior designer Thierry Despont to help make it more livable.
According to a 1995 story from the New York Times, published when the couple was putting the finishing touches on the property, the house includes a 60-foot pool, 20-car garage, reception hall for 150 people, gym lined with rock from the Pacific Northwest, trampoline room, and a spa.
There have been no updates from the Gateses on how they've changed or updated the home since then.
In 2007, a Microsoft intern shared a few more details about the home after having the chance to attend "one of the four annual intern BBQs" hosted by Bill, which the intern wrote about on a Microsoft blog.
According to his post, he and 265 other interns were bused to Xanadu 2.0 from the Microsoft campus and were allowed to explore the property when they arrived. He describes "getting screened airport-style" to ensure no one had a camera or phones before checking out the elaborate landscaping, dock, boat, hot tub and beach (with sand imported from Hawaii) in the backyard. Inside, he recalls seeing a movie theater and "a room that looked to be completely filled with couches and pillows."
Despite having opened their doors to company interns — as well as friends and family — a peek inside the home is coveted enough that, in 2009, a tour of the home sold for $35,000 at a charity auction, TechCrunch reported.
Now that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-founders have announced their decision to end their marriage, it's unclear what will happen to their family home. The pair share three children: son Rory John, 21, and daughters Phoebe Adele, 18, and Jennifer Katharine, 25.
In a 2019 interview with the New York Times, Melinda indicated that she would be happy to move out of the home, and that she and Bill would likely be making some "lifestyle changes" — including moving into a smaller home — when their youngest, Phoebe, went off to college.
"With the foundation in Seattle, we will be here for at least six months out of the year. But I assure you, if we decide to spend six months somewhere else it will be in a smaller house," she told the publication at the time.
When discussing the morality of owning a multi-million dollar home, Melinda said: "We certainly spend money on ourselves. You see it in the house that we built. We won't have that house forever, though." She continued: "Anyway, just to be clear, the house was being built before I came on the scene. But I take responsibility for it."
Melinda also suggested she didn't think of the expansive property as her forever home: "I'm actually really looking forward to the day that Bill and I live in a 1,500-square-foot house."
RELATED VIDEO: Melinda Gates Calls Marriage to Bill 'Irretrievably Broken,' Declines Spousal Support Despite No Prenup
On May 3, Bill and Melinda shared a joint statement on Twitter, announcing their separation.
"After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage. Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives," they said, referring to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which they founded in 2000 and is now worth over $40 billion.
"We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life," they concluded in the statement.
A source tells PEOPLE that a "combo of things" led them to end the relationship after 27 years of marriage and that the recent timing reflects the fact that Phoebe is now an adult.
"It's absolutely because their youngest child is graduating from high school, and the idea was that they stayed together through that," the source says. "They limped through until their kids were out of school like a lot of people."
JEFF CHRISTENSEN/Getty Bill and Melinda Gates
Melinda filed for divorce in documents that indicate she and Bill have a separation agreement in place — something the source says is likely part of a plan to keep things as civil and private as possible between the former couple, who have said they still plan to work together at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
"Nobody is going to want to invite more scrutiny because it'll hurt their credibility," the source says. "I don't think they're so angry that anybody wants to take each other down, like you sometimes see. [Melinda is] not incentivized for that."
In Melinda's court documents, which were obtained by PEOPLE, the philanthropist said her marriage was "irretrievably broken," and that she was not requesting spousal support or child support — only that the court reinforce their separation contract.
Their split comes nearly three decades after they tied the knot on New Year's Day in Lanai, Hawaii after first meeting at Microsoft after she began working there in 1987.