French billionaires pledge big donations to rebuild fire-ravaged Notre Dame

Some of France’s richest families have promised to help restore the Notre Dame Cathedral after a devastating fire destroyed much of the historic Paris landmark.

French businessman Francois-Henri Pinault said Monday night he and his family (including his wife, actress Salma Hayek) will donate €100 million (US$113mn) to the cathedral’s reconstruction.

“This tragedy strikes all the French and beyond all those who are attached to the spiritual values,” he tweeted. “Faced with such a tragedy, everyone wishes to give life back to this jewel of our heritage.”

Pinault is chair and CEO of the international luxury group Kering, which includes Gucci and Saint Laurent. He is also president of holding company Groupe Artemis, which owns the fine arts auction house Christie’s.

“My father [François Pinault] and I have decided to release as of now from the funds of Artemis a sum of 100 million euros to participate in the effort that will be necessary for the complete reconstruction of Notre Dame,” he said.

Pinault’s donation was doubled on Tuesday morning by Bernard Arnault, owner of luxury goods group LVMH, whose brands include Moët & Chandon and Dior.

“In the wake of this national tragedy, the Arnault family and the LVMH Group pledge their support for #NotreDame. They will donate a total of 200 million euros to the fund for reconstruction of this architectural work, which is an integral part of the history of France,” a statement posted on the LVMH Twitter account read.

French President Emmanuel Macron said late Monday he plans to launch a national fundraising campaign to rebuild the 800-year-old cathedral.

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