Jeffrey Epstein, the notorious financier and convicted sex offender, allegedly threatened to expose an affair between Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Russian bridge player Mila Antonova in 2017 after Gates declined to participate in Epstein’s philanthropic venture. This initiative, which involved a multi-billion dollar foundation Epstein was trying to launch with JPMorgan Chase, failed to secure backing from the bank.
Antonova, an avid bridge player who had previously played against Bill and Melinda Gates in a tournament, was looking for investors for her own bridge academy when she was introduced to Epstein by Boris Nikolic, Gates’ principal advisor at the time. Antonova claimed that she was unaware of Epstein’s real identity and criminal background at the time, assuming he was a legitimate businessman interested in supporting her endeavour. While Epstein declined to invest in the bridge academy, he funded Antonova’s education at a software coding academy.
After Gates turned down Epstein’s invitation to join his foundation, Epstein demanded payment for Antonova’s studies, possibly in an attempt to extort money or exert pressure due to the alleged relationship between Gates and Antonova. This potential scandal would mark the second instance of reported infidelity during Gates’ 27-year marriage to Melinda. In 2021, through a spokesperson, Gates admitted to a nearly 20-year relationship with a Microsoft employee, stating that it ended amicably before his departure from the company to focus on philanthropy.
Gates has previously apologized for meeting with Epstein several times in the 2010s, ostensibly to raise money for the Gates Foundation. The allegations of Gates’ relationship with Antonova and the Microsoft employee came amidst rumors of Gates making uncomfortable advances towards several women in his employ at both Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.