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Bill Gates and Jay Gatsby: His embrace of Gatsby led to his current moral morass

He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close

that he could hardly fail to grasp it

Jay Gatsby quote on the dome of Gates’ library

Bill Gates is a quintessential example of the American Dream — unlike the fictitious Jay Gatsby. So, why does his life seem so sleazy in his later years, more Gatsby-like than Gates Foundation-like?

Gates was a successful nerd who failed to attract the beautiful woman — until he achieved tremendous financial and business success. He became a billionaire by the time he was 31, and he founded one of the most successful companies in history, one that fueled the technology boom in America.

Why Epstein?

Which leads to this question: Why did Gates associate with a convicted pedophile like Jeffrey Epstein, which was the final nail in his coffin for his wife Melinda, the beautiful woman he could never attract until he was in his 30s. Melinda did not agree to marry him until he was 38 years old and after seven years of dating, so she did not hesitate to dump him after his association with Epstein.

How did Gates go wrong in moral terms? His reputation has deteriorated since Melinda announced that she was leaving him for good a after 27 years of marriage. Their relationship was rocky prior to that time, but the Epstein relationship ultimately ended the marriage contract.

Should Melinda have seen this coming when Bill used a quotation from “The Great Gatsby,” one that he did not understand?

He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it

F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Great Gatsby”

Bill was brilliant in technology, but certainly did not understand literature. He told one friend that he used that quotation because Gatsby’s wooing of Daisy reminded Bill of his enticing courtship of Melinda.


Melinda fully comprehended the meaning of Fitzgerald’s Gatsby, but she probably waited for years to leave him because of their three children.

Misunderstanding the Jay and Daisy "love" story

What Gates did not realize, and what his relationship with Epstein symbolizes, is that the Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan were both deeply-flawed human beings in Fitzgerald’s presentation. Gatsby was a weak man who changed his name in the pursuit of the American Dream, only achieving his wealth through a sleazy bootlegger.

Daisy chose to remain with a racist abuser rather than go to Gatsby. She was also a sleaze who had nothing more than physical beauty.

The “blue lawn” on the dome is simply another of Gatsby’s illusions in his quest to win Daisy over to him, just as his wealth and mansion were. The blue lawn is the water that separated the two, and it is an illusion, even though Gatsby believes in it until the end.

Gatsby’s life is an illusion itself, as he tries to disassociate himself from his roots in the Midwest and become an admired man on the East Coast.

Bill Gates’ life was not an illusion, but his views about life outside of business may have been as illusory as those of Gatsby.

Melinda, beautiful and devoutly Catholic

Gates is not a particularly religious man, but he married a woman who is. Melinda insisted on marrying him in a Catholic Church and raising their children in that faith. They had dated for seven years before Melinda agreed to his marriage proposal.

She was bright in her own right, having earned an MBA from Duke in 1987 before joining Microsoft.

In short, Melinda was no Daisy Buchanan, and when she read that quote and the explanation of it from her husband, she must have been appalled.

And then in 2013, she met Epstein,

Melinda Gates met with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein alongside her husband Bill in New York City and soon after said she was furious at the relationship between the two men, according to people familiar with the situation.

The previously unreported meeting occurred at Epstein’s Upper East Side Mansion in September 2013, on the same day the couple accepted the Lasker Bloomberg Public Service Award at the Pierre Hotel and were photographed alongside then-mayor Mike Bloomberg.

The meeting would prove a turning point for Gates’ relationship with Epstein, the people familiar with the matter say, as Melinda told friends after the encounter how uncomfortable she was in the company of the wealthy sex offender and how she wanted nothing to do with him.

Gates’ friendship with Epstein—who for years was accused of molesting scores of underage girls—still haunts Melinda, according to friends of the couple who spoke to The Daily Beast this week in light of the pair’s divorce announcement, which had been weeks in the making.

Lachland Cartwright and Kate Briquette, “Melinda Gates warned Bill

about Jeffrey Epstein,” The Daily Beast, May 6, 2021

Epstein’s arrest was the final blow for Melinda

Epstein was convicted in 2007 of paying an underaged girl for sex, yet Gates met him in 2011 and even today tries to rationalize the relationship.

In a contentious interview with PBS’ Judy Woodruff last year, Gates admitted the error of his ways but tried to downplay their significance.

I had dinners with him. I regret doing that. He had relationships he said with people he said would give to public health. Not nearly enough philanthropy goes in that direction ,,,

'I had several dinners with him hoping that what he said about getting billions of philanthropy for global health through contacts he had might emerge. When it looked like that wasn't a real thing that relationship ended,' Gates said.

'It was a huge mistake to spend time with him and give him the credibility of being there. There were lots of others in that same situation, but I made a mistake.'

'Those meetings were a mistake. They didn't result in what he purported, and I cut them off. You know, that goes back a long time ago now,'

Judy Woodruff, “The Newshour,” PBS, September 2021

After the divorce filing, Gates admitted that his marriage had been “unhappy” and that his visits to Epstein’s “lair” were an escape from that, according to The Daily Beast investigation.

So, while Jay Gatsby’s wealth had been a fraud, and Gates’ was not, he nevertheless devolved into a moral morass from which he could not extricate himself in an effort to save his marriage — and his wealth.

The wonderful philanthropy of Gates and his foundation have been overshadowed by the sleaziness of the stories today, which is unfortunate.

Gates should attempt to remove that quotation from the dome of his library. It is too much like reality than the Cinderella world in which he tried to live.

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