Salma Hayek's husband donates $113 million to repair Notre Dame, French billionaire pledges $226 million
France's richest man Bernard Arnault has reportedly pledged €200 million($226m) towards the repair and restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. In doing so, the Frenchman has managed to double the donation of Salma Hayek's husband, French tycoon Francois-Henri Pinault.
Multi-billionaire Arnault, who heads the LVMH luxury goods group, which owns Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Givenchy, immediately became the biggest benefactor of an appeal launched by President Emmanuel Macron. On the day of the fire, i.e. Monday, Salma Hayek's husband Pinault, who controls brands including Gucci and Alexander McQueen, had also pledged 100 million euros ($113m) towards the rebuilding of the cathedral.
According to LVMH group's most recent statement, "The Arnault family and the LVMH group, in solidarity with this national tragedy, are associated with the reconstruction of this extraordinary cathedral, symbol of France, its heritage and its unity. In the meantime, the LVMH Group puts at the disposal of the state and the concerned authorities all its teams, creative, architectural, financial, to help the long work of reconstruction on the one hand, and of fundraising on the other hand."
It is further being reported that France's Heritage Foundation has launched a "national collection" on its website, as per Daily Mail. In addition to that, Valerie Pecresse, president of the Ile-de-France region, has unveiled a budget of 10 million euros of "emergency aid to help the archdiocese to start the work." She added, "This reconstruction, which will obviously be very expensive, will mobilize a whole country."
A French lumber company's head told local news stations that they were ready to provide the best oak beams available to rebuild the intricate lattice that supported the now-destroyed roof, also known as the "Forest". "The work will surely take years, decades even, but it will require thousands of cubic meters of wood. We'll have to find the best specimens, with large diameters," said Sylvain Charlois of the Charlois group in Murlin, central France.
The United Nations' Paris-based UNESCO has also pledged to stand "at France's side" to restore the site, which it declared a world heritage site in 1991. "We are already in contact with experts and ready to dispatch an urgent mission to evaluate the damage, save what can be saved and start elaborating measures for the short- and medium-term," UNESCO's secretary general Audrey Azoulay said in a statement on Tuesday.
Efforts to save the cathedral started pouring in after a visibly emotional Macron spoke outside the gothic cathedral, mentioning the need for a national fundraising campaign to restore Notre-Dame, saying that it would be officially launched on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, firefighters at the venue confirmed on Tuesday morning that the blaze had been totally extinguished and that the firemen had been at it all through the night. However, the cause of the fire wasn't confirmed, but it is believed that the intense restoration work that the cathedral was undergoing could have played a role in sparking the fire.