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French billionaires pledge $339m for Notre Dame cathedral rebuild

Lianna Brinded
Head of Yahoo Finance UK
Francois-Henri Pinault and his wife Salma Hayek. Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

French billionaire François-Henri Pinault and his family said on Monday evening that they will donate €100m (£86.3m, $113m) to rebuild the historic landmark Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, after it was ravaged by a fire yesterday.

Soon after, French billionaire Bernard Arnault and his luxury goods group LVMH (MC.PA) pledged €200m towards the reconstruction.

Pinault, who is married to actress Salma Hayek, said “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.” 

Yesterday, a fire broke out at Notre Dame Cathedral, gutting the landmark which has a 800-year history and has undergone extensive and expensive repairs and restorations.

Read more: How to donate to the Notre Dame fundraising appeal to rebuild cathedral after fire

François-Henri Pinault is one of the richest people in Europe, thanks to his family’s fashion empire. He is the chairman and CEO of the international luxury group Kering (KER.PA), which owns the Gucci brand. He is also president of the French holding company Groupe Artémis, which owns the fine arts auction house Christie’s. Combined with his wife’s — actress Salma Hayek — wealth, they are worth £5.126bn ($6.71bn), according to the Sunday Times Rich List.

Smoke rises from the Notre-Dame Cathedral as seen from Pont du Caroussel on April 15, 2019 in Paris, France. Photo: Richard Bord/Getty Images

Bernard Arnault is worth over $91.7bn, according to Forbes.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron said late Monday in a tweet that “Notre Dame of Paris in flames. Emotion for a whole nation. Thoughts for all Catholics and for all French. Like all our countrymen, I’m sad tonight to see this part of us burn.” 

He added that he plans to launch a national fundraising campaign to rebuild the cathedral. 

According to Bloomberg, Total (FP.PA), a major French oil and gas company, on Tuesday pledged a further €100m ($113m) for Notre Dame’s reconstruction. Tech and consulting firm Capgemini has also promised €1m ($1.1m).