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Bill and Melinda Gates portrait unveiled at National Portrait Gallery

May 17, 2011 | 12:00 pm

Gates Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, have been officially immortalized in a new painting at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. The artwork, which was unveiled Tuesday morning, was painted by Jon Friedman and is on display in the museum's "Recent Acquisitions" exhibition.

The painting was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery and is part of the museum's permanent collection.

The portrait emphasizes the Gateses' humanitarian efforts, which are conducted through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (The screen behind them in the painting reads "All Lives Have Equal Value.") The artwork makes no direct visual reference to Microsoft, the software company that Gates founded with Paul Allen in 1975.

The couple issued a joint statement Tuesday: "It is an honor to have our portrait joining those of so many outstanding Americans in the National Portrait Gallery. Our thanks go to Jon Friedman for creating the portrait in so thoughtful a manner, and for calling out the work of our foundation so evocatively."

Gates isn't the only businessman to earn a place in the National Portrait Gallery. Other prominent businessmen who are featured in the museum's collections include Ted Turner, Malcolm Forbes Jr., Rupert Murdoch and Hugh Hefner.

A spokeswoman for the National Portrait Gallery said that the museum features portraits of "individuals of all backgrounds and careers -- it's a matter of how significant you are in American history."


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Photos, from top: The portrait of Bill and Melinda Gates by Jon Friedman at the National Portrait Gallery; Friedman with his portrait. Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press