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French Billionaires Pledge $680 Million to Restore Notre Dame

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(Update 10.16 a.m., ET) – France’s leading billionaires and companies have rallied to pledge $670 million (€600 million) to restore Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral following a devastating fire on Monday evening.

Francois-Henri Pinault, chairman of Kering (the parent company of Gucci), and his billionaire father, Francois Pinault, announced on Tuesday they would donate $113 million (€100 million) via their family investment company, Artemis. The Arnault family, owners of luxury goods group LVMH, also pledged $226 million (€200 million) after French President Emmanuel Macron called for donations to rebuild the French national icon.

“The Arnault family and the LVMH Group, in solidarity with this national tragedy, are committed to assist with the reconstruction of this extraordinary cathedral, symbol of France, its heritage and its unity,” the family said in a statement.

François-Henri Pinault, chief executive of Kering Group, and his wife Salma Hayek. FilmMagic

“This tragedy is striking all the French people, and beyond that, all those attached to spiritual values,” Francois-Henri Pinault said in a statement. “Faced with this tragedy, everyone wishes to give life back to this jewel of our heritage as soon as possible.”

The Arnault family, which Forbes estimates is worth $91.7 billion, also offered the design and architectural resources of the LVMH group to the restoration of Notre Dame.

The Bettencourt Meyers family, which owns one third of the L’Oréal cosmetics empire, announced it would donate $226 million (€200 million) via its Bettencourt Schueller Foundation. Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, sits on the L’Oréal board and is the world’s richest woman.

French charity Fondation du Patrimoine has launched an international appeal to raise funds for the UNESCO World Heritage site that was partially destroyed in Monday’s fire. Patrick Pouyanné, chief executive of Total, tweeted the French oil giant would contribute $113 million (€100 million) to the fund.

Billionaire Henry Kravis, cofounder of private equity group KKR, and his wife, Marie-Josée Kravis, also announced on Tuesday that they planned to donate $10 million towards the rebuilding.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo thanked firefighters for their work saving the cathedral’s famous bell towers and announced plans for a “major international conference of donors” to raise funds for the rebuilding work. Hidalgo also said Paris already had $90 million (€80 million fund) for the restoration of the city’s churches

The fire that ripped through an area of the 800-year-old cathedral that was already under reconstruction was extinguished in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

I joined Forbes as the European News Editor and will be working with the London newsroom to define our coverage of emerging businesses and leaders across the UK and Euro…

Source: French Billionaires Pledge $680 Million to Restore Notre Dame

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