Kering boss François-Henri Pinault and LVMH Group CEO Bernard Arnault are among the French billionaires who have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to help rebuild the world-famous Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, which was partly destroyed in a massive fire Monday.
French president Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild the damaged medieval structure, saying “it’s what our history deserves.” Notre-Dame is the most-visited monument in Europe, with 13 million visitors a year. The fire caused the cathedral’s roof and spire to collapse, but the body of the church, including its two iconic bell towers, have been saved, the BBC reported.
So far, more than €600 million euros ($678 million) has already been pledged by powerful French companies and their associated families to the landmark church’s reconstruction. The Pinault family — which controls Kering (a luxury conglomerate including Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, and a sponsor of the Cannes Film Festival) — has promised €100 million through their investment firm, Société Artemis.
“Faced with this tragedy, everyone wishes to give life back to this jewel of our heritage as soon as possible,” said Pinault.
The Arnault family, which controls LVMH, whose brands include Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Givenchy, have committed to giving €200 million.
“The Arnault family and the LVMH Group would like to show their solidarity at 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,” the family said in a statement.
Another illustrious French clan, the Bétencourt-Meyers family, who are behind the cosmetic brand L’Oreal, and their Foundation Bettencourt Schueller have also pledged to give €200 million euros help fund the reconstruction of Notre-Dame.
Total, the French oil and gas company, has pledged to €100 millions.
Notre-Dame cathedral, which was preparing for huge crowds as Easter Week begins, is located on the Ile de la Cite, one of two islands in the Seine river, which runs through the heart of Paris.
The Paris prosecutor has opened a preliminary investigation to look into the causes of the fire, which are still uncertain at this point, according to Le Monde newspaper. However, they are not considering arson or terrorism at this time. The blaze is “potentially connected” to a $6.8 million renovation project currently under way, according to AFP, which cited the Paris fire department.