French Billionaires Pledge $700 Million To Save Notre Dame
After being ravaged by flames for around 15 hours yesterday, one of France's—and the world's—most historic architectural landmarks has suffered serious damage, including the collapsing of its iconic 90-metre spire and much of the cathedral's ceiling.
The entire wooden interior, which dates to the 13th century, has been badly burned and the damage is likely irreparable. Around 30,000 people visit Notre Dame daily.
In the wake of the tragedy, three of France's richest families—the billionaires behind luxury giants LVMH Group, Kering and L'Oreal—have banded together to pledge a combined €600 million (about US$675 million) to assist in the cathedral’s restoration.
LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Givenchy, and its CEO Bernard Arnault have promised €200 million ($226 million). Arnault is the third richest person in the world, worth an estimated US$90.4 billion.
The Bettencourt Meyers family, which controls L'Oreal and its subsidiary brands including Lancôme, Kiehl's and Shu Umera, matched LVMH's donation. Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, granddaughter of L'Oreal founder Eugene Schueller, is the world's richest woman and is worth an estimated US$53.5 billion.
Finally, French billionaire François-Henri Pinault, who is chairman and CEO of Kering group which owns brands such as Gucci and Saint Laurent, pledged €100m (US$113m).
"This tragedy is striking all the French people, and beyond that, all those attached to spiritual values," said Pinault. "Faced with this tragedy, everyone wishes to give life back to this jewel of our heritage as soon as possible."
Watch this space, as we hope to see Notre Dame restored to her former glory soon.
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