Art Market

Notre Dame Cathedral’s emergency evacuation plans helped save about 90% of its art.

Wallace Ludel
Apr 19, 2019 3:52PM, via Reuters

Notre Dame Cathedral engulfed in flames on April 15, 2019. Photo by Olivier Mabelly, via Flickr.

Roughly 90% of the priceless artworks and artifacts housed in Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral were saved from Monday’s disastrous fire due to firemen and other emergency personnel perfectly executing emergency contingency plans established for such an occasion. The contingency plan involved prioritizing objects for removal and incorporated such tactics as forming a human chain to safely remove them.

Insurance adjuster and director of fine art at Sedgwick, Michel Honore, was in charge of assessing damage to the cathedral’s treasures. Honore told Reuters:

The plan itself worked perfectly and was adhered to the letter and that is why the contents lost is not as severe as might have been feared. [. . .] One of the first items to come out was the crown of thorns and the remnants of the crucifix. They were on the top of the list and they were taken out in priority in strict application of the plan.

Artworks saved from the blaze are being housed at the Louvre while damages are assessed. As for what caused the cathedral to go up in flames, the leading belief is that an electrical short-circuit started the fire. Investigators, however, are not yet allowed to search Notre Dame’s interior due to safety hazards.

Wallace Ludel