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Disney Pledges $5 Million to Help Rebuild Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral

The Walt Disney Co. has joined a number of other companies in pledging $5 million towards the reconstruction of Notre-Dame, the iconic Paris landmark damaged this week by a massive fire.

Disney CEO Bob Iger said the cathedral, which featured in the company’s 1996 animated adaptation of Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” was a “beacon of hope and beauty that has defined the heart of Paris and the soul of France for centuries, inspiring awe and reverence for its art and architecture and for its enduring place in human history.”

“The Walt Disney Company stands with our friends and neighbors in the community, offering our heartfelt support as well as a $5 million donation for the restoration of this irreplaceable masterpiece,” Iger said.

A reported $900 million has already been pledged for restoration of the site by French billionaires and international companies, including the owners of globally renowned French fashion and cosmetics brands Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton, Sephora and L’Oreal. The prime minister said that all the pledges for the reconstruction would “serve this purpose and nothing else.”

Authorities currently have no estimate of the total cost of the damage and renovation work required. President Macron has vowed to rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral within five years, saying it would be “even more beautiful.” However, some experts have suggested that the work might take decades.

Disney’s pledge Wednesday came on the heels of France’s announcement that it would invite architects from across the globe to submit designs for a new spire for Notre-Dame. The original 300-foot spire collapsed during the fire, which raged for nearly 15 hours, destroying much of the medieval structure’s roof.

The competition to design the new spire was announced by French prime minister, Edouard Philippe, who said it sought to give Notre-Dame a spire “adapted to techniques and challenges of our times.”

“The international competition will allow us to ask the question of whether we should recreate the spire as it was conceived by [Eugene] Viollet-le-Duc or if, as is often the case in the evolution of heritage, we should endow Notre-Dame with a new spire,” said Philippe.

The spire was itself an addition, designed by Viollet-le-Duc and erected in the mid-1800s during renovation work to the iconic building, which originally began construction in the 12th century. Speaking after a special meeting of the French Cabinet called by President Emmanuel Macron to discuss the reconstruction, the prime minister said restoring Notre-Dame, which is a Unesco World Heritage site, to its former glory was “obviously a huge challenge” and “a historic responsibility.”

The cause of the fire is currently being investigated, with workers from companies involved in renovations being questioned.

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