French Billionaire Pledges $226 Million to Help Notre Dame Rebuilding Efforts
Bernard Arnault's contribution comes after François-Henri Pinault, Salma Hayek's husband, pledged €100 million (over US $113 million) to the cause
A second French magnate is making a financial donation to help rebuild the fallen Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault — the 70-year-old chairman and chief operating officer of LVMH, the world’s largest luxury goods company — announced on Tuesday that his family and business organization will offer €200 million (over US $226 million) to help repair the damaged structure.
“The Arnault family and the LVMH Group, in solidarity with this national tragedy, are committed to asset with the reconstruction of this extraordinary cathedral, symbol of France, its heritage and its unity,” the statement read, explaining the donation will go to “the fund dedicated to the reconstruction of this architectural work, which is a core part of the French History.”
Arnault oversees an empire of 70 brands including Louis Vuitton, Dior, Marc Jacobs, Céline, Thomas Pink, Moët & Chandon, Hennessy, Dom Pérignon, Bulgari, Fenty Beauty by Rihanna and Sephora. Forbes estimates that he has a net worth of $91.6 billion.
In addition to the financial pledge, Arnault’s LVMH Group offered its “creative, architectural, and financial specialists” to aid “the State and the relevant authorities” with “the long work of reconstruction and fundraising.”
In a statement obtained by French newspaper Le Figaro, Pinault, 56, said, “My father (François Pinault) and myself have decided to release a sum of €100 million from our Artemis funds (the family holding company) to participate in the effort that will be necessary for the complete reconstruction of Notre-Dame.”
Pinault’s donation was the first major one announced. Through Kering, an international luxury group, his family owns and controls a number of businesses including Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga. The elder Pinault, who is 82, is worth an estimated $37.3 billion, according to Bloomberg’s “Billionaires Index.”
Hayek, 52, shared an image of the burning cathedral on Instagram, writing in the caption, “As many others I’m in deep shock and sadness to witness the beauty of Notre-Dame turn into smoke. I love you Paris.”
The Oscar-nominated actress and the businessman have a residence near the cathedral and were married in Paris on February 14, 2009, at the City Hall of the Sixth Arrondissement, which is less than a mile away from the historic church.
A public fundraising drive has already been announced and opened Tuesday morning in France.
“The worst has been avoided, but the battle isn’t fully won yet,” Macron, 41, told crowds outside the church.
He continued, “It is with pride I tell you tonight we will rebuild this cathedral . . . we will rebuild Notre Dame because it is what the French expect of us, it is what our history deserves, it is, in the deepest sense, our destiny.”
Monday’s blaze erupted around 6:30 p.m. local time and appears to have completely consumed the landmark’s roof. The building’s towering spire fell, according to France 24.
Pedestrians flooded the streets to watch the blaze, many in tears, one Paris resident told PEOPLE. On Monday evening, a crowd gathered to sing “Ave Maria” near the cathedral.
By days end, a Paris fire official announced the fire had been contained and that the structure will be “saved and preserved.”