France’s richest man, Bernard Arnault, has pledged to donate €200 million to help rebuild the Notre Dame.
The Gothic cathedral was partially destroyed when a huge blaze spread through the building yesterday evening (April 15).
Firefighters were able to save the main stone structure, including its two towers, but footage shared on social media showed the roof and spire collapse as a result of the flames.
It’s not yet clear what started the fire, but officials say it could be linked to extensive renovation works which were underway. The blaze has now been fully extinguished, thanks to firefighters who worked tirelessly through the night.
The Notre Dame is a Paris icon, having stood there for 850 years. It’s a tourist hotspot – having around 30,000 visitors each day – and a Unesco World Heritage site.
Thousands of people gathered in the streets around the building as it went up in flames; some standing silently, some crying, with some singing hymns or prayers.
Following the incident, Arnault, the CEO of LVMH, promised to give millions of euros to help restore the building to its former glory.
LVMH is the world’s largest luxury-goods company; a business empire which includes Louis Vuitton and Sephora. Arnault came fourth on Forbes‘ Billionaire’s 2019 list, and has a net worth of $91.7B.
LVMH shared a statement on Twitter announcing the news of their donation, which read:
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.
They will donate a total sum of 200 million euros to the fund dedicated to the reconstruction of this architectural work, which is a core part of the French History.
In the meantime, the LVMH Group puts at the disposal of the State and the relevant authorities all its teams – including creative, architectural and financial specialists – to help with the long work of reconstruction and fundraising, which is already in progress.
"In the wake of this national tragedy, the Arnault family and the LVMH Group pledge their support for #NotreDame. 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." pic.twitter.com/utvJT8xJht
— LVMH (@LVMH) April 16, 2019
The donation came after French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault, the chief executive of Kering, which owns brands including Gucci, pledged to donate €100 million to help rebuild the cathedral.
French President Emmanuel Macron promised the Notre Dame would be restored, telling media:
We’ll rebuild this cathedral all together and it’s undoubtedly part of the French destiny and the project we’ll have for the coming years.
That’s what the French expect [and] because it’s what our history deserves.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) April 15, 2019
It’s fantastic to see these kinds of generous donations being put towards the restoration of the iconic building.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.