French billionaire art collectors pledged €300 million to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral.
A devastating fire raged inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris as the sky darkened on April 15, 2019. Photo by Veronique de Viguerie/Getty Images.
The fire that ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral Monday night in Paris destroyed much of the iconic church’s roof, and caused its famed spire to topple in a blaze that horrified French citizens at the scene and the millions watching live around the world. After nine hours of flames, the blaze was contained, leaving the two towers standing along with much of the interior nave.
Even as the fire still burned, French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild the cathedral, and almost immediately, benefactors stepped up to pledge funds to the project. Among them were François-Henri Pinault and his father François Pinault, the managing partners of Groupe Artémis, the holding company that owns auction house Christie’s, and Bernard Arnault, the art collector and head of luxury conglomerate LVMH who spent over a decade getting the massive art museum that is the Louis Vuitton Foundation built in a park just west of Paris.
Bernard Arnault. Photo by Jérémy Barande / Ecole polytechnique Université Paris-Saclay, via Wikimedia Commons.
In a statement posted on Twitter by reporter William Plummer, Francois-Henri Pinault said he and his father would commit €100 million ($113 million) to the project.
"Mon père (François Pinault) et moi même avons décidé de débloquer dès à présent sur les fonds d'Artemis une somme de 100 millions d'euros pour participer à l'effort qui sera nécessaire à la reconstruction complète de Notre Dame", écrit François-Henri Pinault— William Plummer (@PlummerWilliam) April 15, 2019
Shortly thereafter, Arnault doubled the Pinaults’ pledge in a statement posted on the LVMH Twitter account, committing €200 million ($226.1 million) to the cathedral’s restoration.
"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
President Macron has called for a fundraising campaign to help rebuild the French icon after the blaze, which took some 400 firefighters to put out.