Notre Dame Rebuild Receives Generous Donations From François-Henri Pinault & Other French Billionaires
Millions are still in mourning after a terrible fire ravaged the beautiful and iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Despite the tragedy, the French people are coming together, and foremost among those are a number of French billionaires who are pledging millions of dollars to help Macron’s plan to rebuild the renown cathedral.
According to The Local, the first titan to offer his services was none other than François-Henri Pinault. The Frenchman pledged to donate a staggering 100 million euros to rebuild the structure. Pinault shared his thoughts on the disaster, per CNN.
“This tragedy is striking all the French people, and beyond that, all those attached to spiritual values. Faced with this tragedy, everyone wishes to give life back to this jewel of our heritage as soon as possible.”
The Frenchman owns a luxury empire, which includes labels like Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, under the conglomerate Kering. In addition, the family also owns “auction house Christie’s, several vineyards, a French soccer club, a theatre in Paris and a luxury yacht and expedition company,” per The Mirror. All in all, the Pinault empire is worth an estimated $37.3 billion.
However, the luxury tycoon is probably best-known for being the husband of Hollywood actress Salma Hayek. The two married in 2009 and share an 11-year-old daughter, Valentina.
Pinault is not the only billionaire to help the cause. Bernard Arnault has pledged even more than his business rival, and hopes to contribute 200 million euros.
Arnault, with an estimated net worth of $90.4 billion, is the third richest man in the world, beating out other tycoons such as Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg, according to CNN.
The family released a statement on the matter, obtained by Reuters.
“The Arnault family and the LVMH group would like to show their solidarity at a this time of national tragedy, and are joining up to help rebuild this extraordinary cathedral, which is a symbol of France, of its heritage and of French unity.”
Arnault, like Pinault, is a businessman specializing in luxury goods. His LVMH group boasts brands such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, and champagne label Moët & Chandon.
Estimates to rebuild Notre Dame suggest a staggering cost, according to CCN. The damage includes the loss of two-thirds of its ceiling, a demolished spire, and harm to one of the famed stained glass windows. In addition, extensive stonework will be necessary, as extreme heat can weaken stone and turn it into dust.
The contributions are especially important because Notre Dame faces a huge loss of tourist revenue. Though the cathedral itself was free to enter, it cost around $10 to enter the tower and $8 to enter the crypt.
It is for that reason that though the two billionaires have pledged a joint 300 million euros, there are still calls for more donations. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo proposed an international donor conference to coordinate various donations from other wealthy philanthropists. In addition, French charity Fondation du Patrimoine is seeking contributions, and the French Heritage Society, based in the U.S., has launched a restoration fund.