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The Notre-Dame Cathedral is falling apart — and the U.S. is fixing it

Experts say the structural overhaul of Notre-Dame could cost more than $185 million, but no one knows who's supposed to pay for it.

The Notre-Dame de Paris survived 850 years of war and revolution to become the second-most visited site in France after the Eiffel Tower. But bureaucratic inefficiency may pose the most existential threat yet toward the now-crumbling building.

The current conditions are the result of decades of neglect and decay, due in part to an awkward arrangement between church and state, making it unclear who bears responsibility for the building's upkeep.

Now the monument, which welcomes over 12 million visitors each year, needs an urgent structural overhaul that could cost more than $185 million. And with no one in France leading the charge to raise it, the Archdiocese of Paris has turned towards an old ally: the United States.

“The condition of the cathedral, especially under the effect of pollution in the last decades, has strongly deteriorated,” said Michel Picaud, a Parisian-born engineer and archaeologist who is leading the fundraiser. “We have decided to finance this program of restoration with private funds."

Part of that effort includes the formation of two foundations, one in France and one in the U.S., where more than two thousand donors have already contributed about a quarter of the $185 million goal.

This segment originally aired July 30, 2018 on VICE News on HBO.