Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Who is Mimi Gardner Gates? Meet ‘the woman in the hat’

Hats off to her!

Bill and Melinda Gates’ eldest daughter, Jennifer Gates, might be the main spectacle at her lavish Westchester County wedding to fellow equestrian Nayel Nassar on Saturday, but the 25-year-old Stanford grad may have some competition in the style department.

On Thursday, Mimi Gardner Gates — a 79-year-old respected art historian who’s also the stepmother of billionaire Bill Gates — arrived in New York for the weekend’s celebrations wearing a striking jester-like cap.

Gardner Gates will be among the 1-percenters at the 124-acre, $16 million farm in North Salem that Jennifer’s parents bought her in 2018.

The cap’s ornate pompom appears to be a blue flower with an orange stem.
Elder Ordonez / SplashNews.com

Gardner Gates accompanied 65-year-old Bill on a helicopter to New York City after landing in Newark in her stepson’s private jet — and beamed under a black beanie with a flower-shaped topper.

The 79-year-old Gardner Gates appears to dress with flair, in this photo pairing a bright blazer with a striking skirt.
The 79-year-old Gardner Gates’ signature style is certainly theatrical!
Dustin Snipes/AP

(Gates, meanwhile, wore a more modest polo shirt and khakis for his arrival.)

Gardner Gates, a Stanford graduate who earned her Ph.D. in art history at Yale, married Bill Gates Sr. — an attorney and philanthropist who died last September at age 94 — in 1996.

She was the director of the Seattle Art Museum from 1994 to 2009, and now serves as director emerita overseeing SAM’s Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas. Before that, she spent two decades at Yale University Art Gallery as an Asian art curator before becoming its director in 1987, according to her bio on the Gates Cambridge Scholarship site.

Among her other achievements in Seattle, she co-created a 9-acre waterfront sculpture park in the downtown neighborhood of Belltown — a plot that reportedly would have otherwise been sold to condominium developers. She also added more than 2,500 works of art to SAM’s collection and boosted its endowment from $24.5 million in 1994 to $75.5 million in 2005.

Gardner Gates was divorced when the elder Gates asked her to dinner.

“I didn’t think, ‘He’s asking me out.’ I thought he wanted to get more involved in the museum,” she previously told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 

The two shared a quiet courtship, and she called him a “prince of a man.”

Gardner Gates (far right) married the elder Gates (near right) in 1996.
Gardner Gates (far right) married the elder Gates (middle right) in 1996.
Elise Amendola/AP

“I never imagined I’d be so happy in my personal life,” she told the publication.

Messages sent to the Seattle Art Museum and Yale seeking to contact Gardner Gates were not returned by press time.

Source

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