In Brussels, Belgium, to visit European Union officials, the Microsoft chairman was struck in the face with a cream pastry--a cake or possibly a pie--as he was entering a government building to give a speech on education.
The prankster escaped, but one accomplice and a cameraman were taken into custody and later released after Belgian prankster Noel Godin appeared on television to take responsibility for the attack.
Gates will not press charges, according to a Microsoft spokeswoman.
Godin, a fun-loving anarchist, has made a name for himself targeting the rich, famous, and pompous with cream pies. His exploits have become so renowned that a French word has been coined to describe the act of being creamed: entarter.
Perhaps one of the most famous men in the French-speaking world, Godin himself is called "L'entarteur," or "the Pieman." He often appears on TV shows and films and is an author of a book about his exploits.
Those who take Godin's public creamings with good humor are never bothered again. However, L'entarteur has been known to repeatedly target people who react with ill humor to his antics, what he calls the "revolt of laughter."
In the wake Microsoft's
The pieman cometh for Gates
Starting at Comdex in Las Vegas last November, Gates began screening videotaped parodies of himself at his frequent speeches. He has said in interviews that Microsoft's haughty, defiant image is the fault of the press. The company is "humble" and "respectful" before the law. He even broke into song in a recent interview with Barbara Walters.
However, the billionaire, who is said to dislike even a touch from strangers, didn't seem to take the joke as well when he wasn't the one making it. He appeared shaken and angry as he rushed from the site of the creaming.
"Oddly enough, [Godin] apparently complained that [Gates] didn't react strongly enough," the Microsoft spokeswoman said.
"This incident is very unfortunate, especially in light of the types of things Bill is trying to do," she added. "He later made a joke about how the cream didn't even taste that good." Only time will tell if that's good humored enough for the cream puff catapulting Godin.