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The French Billionaires Who Have Pledged $700 Million To Restore Notre Dame

Some of the wealthiest families in France have pledged to donate more than half a billion dollars to rebuild Notre Dame de Paris after a fire caused devastating damage to the iconic cathedral.

So far, the moguls behind L’Oreal, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and other luxury brands, as well as some of France’s biggest companies, have promised to donate a total nearing $700 million.

A massive fire consumed parts of the medieval Catholic cathedral on Monday, causing devastating damage to the structure, some of which dates back to the 12th century. While the cathedral’s main structure and many of its most precious artifacts were saved from the blaze, one of its spires collapsed and two-thirds of the cathedral’s roof was destroyed. 

French President Emmanuel Macron called on people to donate money to help restore Notre Dame to its glory. Here are some of the companies and billionaires from France and around the world who have answered that call.

The Arnault Family

The family of French billionaire Bernard Arnault, who is the chairman of LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and Moët & Chandon, pledged 200 million euros, or about $226 million, for repairs to the ancient cathedral.

“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,” the family said in a statement Tuesday.

The Bettencourt Meyers Family

The family of Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, the granddaughter of the founder of L’Oreal, also pledged 200 million euros ($226 million) to Notre Dame.

In a statement, the Bettencourt Meyers family, which owns a 33% stake in the cosmetics and skin care company, said they were “deeply touched” by the tragedy, “which unites people from different cultures and faiths.” 

The family is donating the money jointly with L’Oreal. Employees of the company are also pooling their money for donations.

Francoise Bettencourt Meyers sits on L’Oreal’s board of directors. She is considered the richest woman in the world, worth $53.5 billion, according to Fortune magazine.

François-Henri Pinault and Family

Hours before Arnault’s announcement, Kering CEO François-Henri Pinault and his family vowed to donate 100 million euros ($113 million). Kering is an international luxury group that owns Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Gucci and Alexander McQueen.

“This tragedy is striking all the French people, and beyond that, all those attached to spiritual values,” François-Henri Pinault said in a statement. “Faced with this tragedy, everyone wishes to give life back to this jewel of our heritage as soon as possible.”

Pinault is married to actress Salma Hayek, who expressed her condolences for the losses at Notre Dame in an Instagram post.

“As many others I’m in deep shock and sadness to witness the beauty of the Notre-Dame turn into smoke,” she wrote. “I love you Paris.”

The City of Paris

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said the French capital would donate 50 million euros ($56.4 million), according to the Agence France-Presse news agency. Hidalgo also proposed hosting a conference to attract international donations in support of the cathedral’s restoration.

Total S.A., a major French utility company

Patrick Poyanne, the CEO of Total, a French oil and gas company, vowed to donate 100 million euros ($113 million) to the private nonprofit Fondation du Patromoine for restoring the cathedral, Bloomberg reported.

Total S.A. ranked as the fourth-largest oil and gas company in the world in 2018, according to Forbes.

Martin and Olivier Bouygues

French brothers Martin and Olivier Bouygues, CEO and deputy CEO, respectively, of the Paris-based construction company Bouygues Group, announced in a tweet that they would be donating 10 million euros ($11.3 million) of their personal funds to restore the cathedral.

The Bouygueses, who have a $4.2 billion net worth, called Notre Dame a “jewel of France and world heritage.”

AXA

AXA, a French insurance firm, also pledged 10 million euros ($11.3 million).

The firm revealed Tuesday that it provided insurance coverage for two of the contracting firms that were working on a restoration project at the cathedral before the fire took place, as well as some of the religious art and relics inside, Reuters reported.

BNP Paribas

BNP Paribas, a France-based international bank, said it would donate 20 million euros (about $22.6 million).

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

In a tweet, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company was “heartbroken” for France, calling Notre Dame a “symbol of home.” Cook announced Tuesday that Apple would contribute but did not disclose the amount. 

The tech giant’s net worth soared to $1 trillion in 2018.

University of Notre Dame in the U.S.

The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, a Roman Catholic institution, vowed to give the cathedral $100,000 for renovations.

“We are deeply saddened to see the damage to the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, a church whose exquisite Gothic architecture has for centuries raised hearts and minds to God,” Rev. John I. Jenkins, president of the university, said in a statement Tuesday.

Jenkins also said the university would ring the bells atop the campus’ Basilica of the Sacred Heart 50 times in tribute of the cathedral.

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