French billionaires donate hundreds of millions to rebuild Notre-Dame

More French billionaires have stepped up with donations for repairs to Notre-Dame, taking the total to €600m.

French luxury and cosmetics group L’Oreal, along with its owners, the Bettencourt Meyers family, have pledged to donate €200m (£173m) following a devastating fire at the cathedral.

The family’s Bettencourt Schueller Foundation will also contribute.

The pledge from Bettencourt Meyers family follows that of two of France’s richest men.

Image:
L'oreal heiress Liliane and daughter Francoise set up the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation in 1987

François-Henri Pinault, who is married to the actress Salma Hayek, said he would be donating €100m (£86.4m), while LVMH chief executive Bernard Arnault also offered €200m (£173m) to reconstruct the “symbol of France”.

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“The Arnault family and the LVMH group would like to show their solidarity at this time of national tragedy, and are joining up to help rebuild this extraordinary cathedral, which is a symbol of France, of its heritage and of French unity,” a statement said.

Mr Pinault had been the first billionaire to say he would donate a large sum of money.

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In a statement to French newspaper Le Figaro, he said he hoped the money would help to “completely rebuild Notre-Dame”.

Mr Pinault is the chairman and chief executive of the Kering group, which owns such brands as Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen. He is also president chairman of Artemis, the holding company that controls the assets of the Pinault family.

He is thought to be worth more than £19bn.


                              French billionaires donate hundreds of millions to rebuild Notre-Dame

Notre-Dame: One of the world's most popular attractions

Around 12million visitors worldwide flock to the iconic cathedral in the French capital each year

In the statement he said: “This tragedy strikes all the French and beyond all those who are attached to spiritual values. Faced with such a tragedy, everyone wants to revive this jewel of our heritage as quickly as possible.

“My father and I have decided to release from the funds of Artemis a sum of €100m to participate in the effort that will be necessary for the complete reconstruction of Notre-Dame.”

Meanwhile, Patrick Pouyanné, chief executive of energy company Total, said his firm would give €100m towards the cathedral’s reconstruction.

France’s Fondation du Patrimoine, a private organisation which works to protect French heritage, has started an international appeal.


                              French billionaires donate hundreds of millions to rebuild Notre-Dame

Notre-Dame fire: Timeline of how events unfolded

Minute by minute account of the dreadful blaze

It tweeted: “For Our Lady to be reborn from her ashes we are launching an international appeal. All donations received will be paid in full to the restoration site.”

The cost of rebuilding the cathedral is expected to run into the billions of euros.

At the time of the fire the 850-year-old building was undergoing a multi-million euro restoration project.

The cost of maintaining Notre-Dame has spiralled over the years and in the past the French government has looked to the private sector to help finance its upkeep.

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