France’s Richest Man Pledges Over $225k to Help Rebuild Notre Dame

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In total, over 650 million euros have been pledged to assist with restoring Notre Dame after a raging inferno destroyed portions of the iconic cathedral. One of the largest single donations was made by Bernard Arnault, the chairman and CEO of the luxury goods group LVHM. His pledge came in at €200 million, or approximately $226 million.

Arnault’s pledge is double the amount that Francois-Henri Pinault – the fashion tycoon and billionaire husband of actress Salma Kayke – made. According to a report by the Daily Mail, Pinault pledged €100 million (about $113 million).

Other large donors include the Bettencourt family, who own cosmetics giant L’Oreal, who pledged €200 million and Total, a French oil company, which made a donation on Tuesday in the amount of €100 million.

Both Arnault and Pinault announced their generous donations after President Emmanuel Macron made an emotional statement expressing his intent to rebuild the cathedral.

“This tragedy impacts all French people,” said Pinault. “Everyone wants to restore life as quickly as possible to this jewel of our heritage.”

In a statement, the LVHM group said, “The Arnault family and the LVMH group, in solidarity with this national tragedy, are associated with the reconstruction of this extraordinary cathedral, symbol of France, its heritage and its unity.”

“In the meantime,” the statement continued, “the LVMH Group puts at the disposal of the state and the concerned authorities all its teams, creative, architectural, financial, to help the long work of reconstruction on the one hand, and of fundraising on the other hand.”

Notre Dame welcomed over 13 million visitors every year, which averages out to more than 35,000 visitors each day.

Rare materials and specialized craftspeople are expected to be needed for the restoration project, and the exact cost to get the cathedral back to its former glory is not yet known.

Valerie Pecresse, the president of the Ile-de-France region, said, “This reconstruction, which will obviously be very expensive, will mobilize a whole country.”

Many other individuals and companies have already stepped forward, announcing their intention to donate money to the cause or assist in other ways, ranging from providing high-quality building materials to offering free flights to experts who can help with reconstruction efforts.