The untold truth of the world's wealthiest wives

It's obvious from the insane popularity of Bravo's Real Housewives franchise that people are totally obsessed with the lives of wealthy wives. But the wealthiest of the wealthiest would never dream of appearing on reality television. They've got more important things to do, like run a multi-million dollar company, cure global poverty, and remind their husband (who just happens to be President of the United States) to put his hand over his heart during the national anthem.

Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates is best known as the wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the two have worked tirelessly to fight global poverty. In 2012, Melinda announced that the foundation would pledge $560 million to ensure women in third world countries have access to contraception. It doesn't hurt that Bill Gates is worth a whopping $87.2 billion.

What you might not know, though, is that Bill was originally Melinda's boss. Apparently, Bill chased her down in the company parking lot and asked if she was free two Saturdays from then. "That wasn't spontaneous enough for me," Melinda has said, and told him to give her a call closer to when his schedule had freed up.

After that first date, it was seven years before the two tied the knot. Melinda says she fell for Bill because of his intelligence and wry sense of humor. But in the beginning, it was difficult to navigate the change from co-workers to partners. "We certainly weren't working as equals when we started together. I was down several levels at Microsoft, and he was the CEO. We've had to change to really be coequals," she said. "It's not something that immediately happens overnight, but we're both committed to it. We needed to talk behind the scenes when it wasn't working. But I think that's come now."

Dasha Zhukova

Dasha Zhukova, the daughter of a Russian oligarch, met Roman Abramovich, once the wealthiest man in Russia and now worth only $8.9 billion, at a New Year's Eve Party organized by her father in 2005. At the time, she was 25 and dating tennis star Marat Safin, and Abramovich was 40 and married to his second wife, Irina Vyacheslavovna Malandina, with whom he has five children.

Dasha and Roman went on to have two children together, but decided to continue to refer to one another as boyfriend and girlfriend, despite the fact that they actually wed in secret in 2008. Dasha reportedly didn't let it slip until an interview with The Wall Street Journal in 2015! Details about the nuptials have been kept under lock and key.

Zhukova is the founder of Garage, an art and fashion magazine acquired by VICE media. Since 2008, she's been an "it girl," an art-world insider, and a major media mogul in her own right.

Priscilla Chan

Priscilla Chan met the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, in the line for the bathroom at a Harvard frat party. Her first impression was that he wasn't serious enough for her. "I thought he was this interesting guy who really wasn't that studious," she said. "On our first date, he told me that he'd rather go on a date with me than finish his take-home midterm. The type-A first child in me was appalled." It wasn't until after she'd sent him home to finish his work that she realized "he was just trying to convince me to spend more time with him, and I've since learned that he's very bright. And his type of learning is different than my approach to learning."

The two dated for nine years before they were wed in 2012. Zuckerberg announced the nuptials through a Facebook life event, of course, prompting all his "friends" to want to know more about the lucky lady who wed a social media mogul worth $62.7 billion?

Chan, who graduated from the medical school at the University of California at San Francisco, is a pediatrician. She has stated that education is an intensely personal issue for her. As the daughter of Chinese immigrants, she speaks three languages: English, Cantonese, and Spanish.

Mackenzie Bezos

As an aspiring writer, Mackenzie Bezos interviewed for a day job in the early nineties at a hedge fund in New York City. Jeff Bezos was the person who interviewed her. She got the job, but Mackenzie was interested in more than just a professional relationship. "My office was next door to his, and all day long I listened to that fabulous laugh," she remembers. "How could you not fall in love with that laugh?"

After dating for three months, the two married in 1993, and Mackenzie moved with Jeff to Seattle, where he founded a startup company called Amazon.com. Today, Jeff is worth $80 billion. Together, the two are parents to four children, and Mackenzie is the author of two novels. When asked if she thought Amazon was destroying the publishing industry, she told Vogue magazine, "Not at all. I think Amazon has been great for readers."

Melania Trump

Melania Trump is a former model from Slovenia and the first immigrant to become First Lady of the United States (since 1825, anyway). Born in 1970 in what was then Yugoslavia, she met Donald Trump in 1998 at the Kit Kat Club in New York—at the time Melania was 26, and Trump was 52. "I went crazy," Trump told Larry King, of meeting Melania. But Trump was on a date with another woman, so when he asked for Melania's number, she refused to give it to him.

Donald and Melania's relationship hasn't been all smooth sailing. They broke up in 1998 and again in 2000. Melania later said they were apart for a few months and suggested that the reason they broke up was because he was weighing a presidential run. In 2004, he proposed with a $1.5 million engagement ring at the Met Costume Gala, and they were married in 2005 in Palm Beach, Fla. Melania appeared on the cover of Vogue wearing her Christian Dior wedding dress.

Though Donald is the least wealthy spouse on this list—Forbes estimates his net worth around $3.5 billion—he is the 45th President of the United States. Melania became a citizen in 2006, the same year she also became a mom to Barron Trump, the president's youngest child.

Jerry Hall

Former model Jerry Hall is best known as the former partner of Mick Jagger and mother to their four children. The two split up, after many years of Jagger's rumored infidelity, in 1999. In 2015, Hall began dating business magnate Rupert Murdoch, worth an estimated $13 billion. They were engaged a year later and married in March 2016.

It was Murdoch's third marriage at the age of 84. Hall was 59. During her single years, Hall dated younger men but expressed her preference for older types. And if anyone was wondering if this was a marriage for the money, they should pipe down. Hall's divorce settlement from Jagger was reportedly $40 million, so she doesn't really need the cash. She told The Independent: "I don't want to have children, because I already have four. And I don't want to be bossed around because I've got my own money, you know."

Laurene Powell

At his death in 2011, Steve Jobs' widow, Laurene Powell, became one of the four richest women and 50 wealthiest people on earth, with $14.1 billion in assets and shares.

Laurene met Steve when she was pursuing her MBA at Stanford University. Jobs had come for a speaking engagement, and she rushed the stage to meet him. Like Jobs, she was a vegetarian and former investment banker. After a year of dating, the two were married in a Buddhist ceremony at Yosemite National Park.

But not all of Laurene's wealth is inherited. According to Forbes, her total net worth is $20.9 billion, thanks to her work with Emerson Collective and College Track. In September 2015, she made a $50 million donation to XQ: The Super School Project, which encourages participants in a competition to redevelop high school curriculum.

Lucy Southworth

Lucy Southworth married Google co-founder Larry Page in 2007, whose net worth, according to Forbes, is $44 billion. Southworth and Page met at Stanford University, where she was studying to get her Ph.D. in biomedical informatics. The two married on Necker Island in the Caribbean, an island owned by Richard Branson (stay tuned for more on that!)

Southworth is notoriously private, but we do know that since their wedding, they've welcomed two children, and she's become very involved in the family's philanthropic work. In 2014, Page announced on his Google+ page that he and Lucy had donated $15 million to fight Ebola through a series of non-profits.

Susan Dell

In 1988, the vivacious Susan Lieberman was working in real estate in Austin, Texas when she met Michael Dell, a guy who got his start selling computers out of his dorm room at the University of Texas. After a lunch date, she told her parents that Michael was "the nicest guy I'd ever met." They married in 1989 when Michael was 24, and Susan was 25. Nearly 30 years later, they're still together and at the helm of the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

Because of Dell computers (you may have heard of it), Michael is worth about $20.8 billion. His success could come from the powerhouse woman who stands beside him. Susan Dell is known for her 65-mile bike ride, her enthusiastic attitude, her philanthropy. and her love of fashion. She holds a degree from Arizona State University in fashion merchandising and design. In 2003, she launched her own fashion line, called Phi, but it only survived a few years. She said the line was "too niche." She later opened her own boutique in Austin, but it has also closed.

Miranda Kerr

Before Miranda Kerr met Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel in 2015, the Victoria's Secret model was still reeling from a painful divorce from actor Orlando Bloom, with whom she has a son, Flynn. "When Orlando and I separated, I actually fell into a really bad depression," she told Elle Canada in November 2016. (The couple split in 2013.) "I never understood the depth of that feeling or the reality of that because I was naturally a very happy person."

Kerr's split from Bloom certainly had its low points, one of which involved allegations of a hook-up with Justin Bieber and a fist-fight between Bieber and Bloom. (Whew.) That may be one reason her relationship with Spiegel followed a more traditional route. Just how traditional, you ask? According to reports, the couple decided to abstain from having sex until they got married. Hey—whatever keeps them away from the Biebs.

According to Forbes, Spiegel became the youngest public company CEO when Snap started trading in March 2017 and one of the world's youngest billionaires, worth an estimated $4 billion.

Salma Hayek-Pinault

Salma Hayek was an established and well-regarded actress before she began dating French businessman François-Henri Pinault in 2006. One needn't look further than the best actress Oscar nomination she received in 2003.

That's likely one reason she's managed to maintain her financial independence after her bank account grew by billions of dollars. "I work hard, I make my own living and I love it. I like having financial independence," Hayek told Redbook (via Us Weekly) in 2011. "I don't ever want to have to depend on anyone completely."

Of course, while being married to one of the richest men in the world (He's worth a cool $22.9 billion) definitely has its upsides, Hayek has admitted that her relationship is far from perfect. In fact, as she told Jimmy Fallon in 2017, she once thought her husband was having an affair with a woman named Elena when it actually turned out to be an English-learning app called ELSA.

Relationships and phones. Oh, Salma. We've been there, too.

Astrid Buffett

According to The Guardian, Warren Buffett met his future wife, Astrid Menks, at a French nightclub in Omaha, Neb. She was working as a waitress there, and his first wife, Susan Buffett, had been singing there. Thus began one of the most bizarre love triangles in history, which would allegedly continue up until Susan's death in 2004.

According to The Guardian, Susan and Astrid shared the famous billionaire for decades. "As his wealth grew, Susan Buffett took on the task of managing her husband's charitable foundation," the tabloid said. "[Warren] Buffett spent a good deal of time with his wife—they often appeared at functions together. Meanwhile, Menks would pack him off to see her, apparently without a trace of jealousy, and would sometimes appear beside her smiling, talking and even holding hands." The Guardian claimed the threesome "even sent out Christmas cards signed 'Warren, Susie and Astrid.'"

Warren married Menks two years after Susan's death. Though Warren's net worth is about $75 billion, he reportedly kept true to his low-key lifestyle and put together an extravagance-free wedding. "There were no golden thrones, champagne flutes or ice sculptures at Nebraska's wedding of the year," The Guardian wrote. "The groom wore an everyday business suit, the ring was a discount purchase through his own jewelery company and the reception was a meal at the Bonefish Grill, an America-wide seafood chain."

Joan Branson

You've heard of men going to great lengths to get the girl, but the story of how Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, wooed his wife Joan may take the cake.

According to a blog post written by Branson, the billionaire took Joan on a tour in 1978 of Necker Island—the island he would eventually purchase. "I fell in love twice that weekend—once as our helicopter (supplied by the realtor of course!) swooped over the turquoise water and white sandy beaches of Necker Island, and again when I saw the smile on the face of the beautiful girl who sat beside me on the journey. Together we strolled around the Island and dreamed up plans for turning it into a haven for musicians."

The island reportedly cost $6 million to purchase. Though Richard was worth about $5.1 billion in 2017, he couldn't afford the island's asking price at the time. As the story goes, he somehow managed to negotiate the price down to $180,000 the following year on the condition that he turn it into a resort. He and Joan would tie the knot on the island 11 years later, in 1989.