- Bernard Arnault, the richest person in France and third-richest in the world, pledged to donate $226 million to help rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral, which went up in flames on Monday evening.
- He joins François-Henri Pinault, another French billionaire, in pledging millions of dollars in donations to the cathedral’s reconstruction fund.
- Many other people around the world have pledged money to help rebuild the Parisian landmark.
- The Notre-Dame fire was fully extinguished on Tuesday morning, but the extent of the damage done and full cost of reparations remain unclear.
The world’s third-richest man, Bernard Arnault, pledged to donate 200 million euros ($226 million) to help rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral, hours after another billionaire pledged 100 million euros ($113 million) in assistance.
The cathedral went up in flames on Monday evening, and its iconic spire collapsed. However, the twin towers are safe and a number of statues were removed from the top of the building last week, putting them out of harm’s way.
Arnault, who is the head of the family behind French luxury conglomerate LVMH, has a net worth of around $90 billion — making him France’s richest person and the third-richest person in the world behind Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates.
In the wake of this national tragedy, the Arnault family and the LVMH Group pledge their support for Notre-Dame,” LVMH said in a Tuesday morning statement. “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.
The fire was fully extinguished by 10:00 a.m. local time on Tuesday morning, but the extent of the damage done to the more than 850-year-old building is not yet clear. The total cost of reconstruction is not yet clear either.
Arnault’s pledge comes after another French billionaire, François-Henri Pinault, and his family pledged 100 million euros ($113 million) to help rebuild Notre-Dame.
Pinault is the CEO and chairman of the luxury group Kering — which owns luxury brands including Gucci and Alexander McQueen — and chairman of the holding company Groupe Artemis.
Pinault’s son, William, said in a statement on Twitter: “My father (François Pinault) and I have decided to release from Artemis funds a sum of 100 million euros to participate in the effort that will be necessary for the complete reconstruction of Notre-Dame.”
La famille Pinault débloque 100 millions d'euros pour Notre-Dame de Paris (François-Henri Pinault à l'AFP)
— William Plummer (@PlummerWilliam) April 15, 2019
Arnault and Pinault are two of many other donors who have pledged money to rebuild Notre-Dame.
The New York-based French Heritage Society on Monday launched a Notre-Dame Fire Restoration Fund, Reuters reported on Monday.
“I fight back tears as I write this,” Elizabeth Stribling, chair of the French Heritage Society, said in a press release. “Notre-Dame is more than a religious symbol, it speaks of human achievements and great art.”
“Although it’s located in France, it is part of great world art that informs our culture and heritage. We must all spring to action,” she said.
Ther are currently more than 100 campaigns to raise funds for Notre-Dame on GoFundMe as of Tuesday morning.