Updated Sep 17, 2019

Exclusive: Bill Gates regrets meeting with Jeffrey Epstein

Photo: John van Hasselt/Corbis via Getty Images

Bill Gates, who donated $2 million to the MIT Media Lab at the request of pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, told Axios on Monday: "I wish I hadn't met with him."

The big picture: The donation was made in 2014, after Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to two state charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution. MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito resigned Sept. 7 after the extent of his involvement with Epstein was revealed.

Why it matters: A Gates official told Ito, in an email obtained by Axios' Felix Salmon, that Gates wanted the $2 million unrestricted gift to be anonymous.

  • Axios reported that, as far as MIT was concerned, the Gates grant was Epstein money. Epstein met with Ito to determine where it would be spent.

Asked if he feels used by Epstein, Gates told me: "I'd say I didn't have a ... business or personal relationship I wouldn't go that far."

  • "It was a dead end," Gates said in his first comments since his name surfaced among billionaires associated with Epstein.

Gates, at the end of a phone interview about a new Gates Foundation report, "Examining Inequality," said: "I won't say I knew him that well, because he was introduced to me as somebody who could bring more people into philanthropy."

  • "There were meetings along those lines," he continued. "That didn't materialize, and so then I stopped meeting with him."

Go deeper: Axios' full reporting on MIT and Jeffrey Epstein's billionaire enablers

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Bill Gates: Gender inequality affects every country on Earth

Bill Gates, in an interview about a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation report on global inequality that's out Tuesday, told Axios that gender inequality cuts across every single country on earth — a shortfall that unites the U.S. and the developing world.

What he's saying: "The developed world hasn't fully solved the problem, and yet we know it's important and we know we need to work on it," Gates said by phone. "The gender issues are much worse as you get down into these poor countries."

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Jeffrey Epstein demonstrates how capitalism rewards malign actors

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In reporting on Jeffrey Epstein I've been able to speak to a few different people who had firsthand experiences with him. (I also reported this week on how he managed to circumvent Harvard's rule against accepting money from him.) Common threads include his easy charm and the way in which he went out of his way to show concern for others.

Why it matters: Epstein is an extreme case, but charming sociopaths in general tend to do very well in business.

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How women's issues became Melinda Gates' issue

Photo: Michele Crowe/CBS via Getty Images

Melinda Gates told me in an interview earlier this year that she initially eschewed a focus on women's issues, seeing it as one of the "soft" areas typically reserved for female philanthropists.

Driving the news: Gates said she realized that women's issues were actually the key to the other areas that she is passionate about: global health, education and economic equality.

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