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Donations to rebuild Notre Dame have already hit almost $770 million

The rebuilding efforts could take years and hundreds of millions of dollars.

by Emma Ockerman
Apr 16 2019, 3:06pm

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Before Notre Dame had even stopped burning, French President Emmanuel Macron promised to rebuild the famed cathedral after a massive fire destroyed its iconic spire and most of its roof Monday night.

And the French people — billionaires and average citizens alike — have already stepped up to help. Donations to restore the historic building have already neared $770 million (700 million euros).

It’s too early to know exactly how much rebuilding the 850-year-old landmark might cost, but the Fondation du Patrimoine — a charity that works on projects concerning French heritage and culture — expects the efforts will cost up to hundreds of millions of dollars, according to Reuters. The reconstruction could also take several years.

The fire was officially put out Tuesday morning, and nobody was killed, although one firefighter was injured attempting to stem the flames, according to Reuters.

“We will rebuild it together,” Macron said late Monday evening as the fire decreased in intensity and spared the cathedral’s iconic bell towers. “It will undoubtedly be part of French destiny and our project for the years to come.”

Soon after, Francois-Henri Pinault, chief executive and founder of the Parisian luxury group Kering — which houses fashion brands including Gucci, Balenciaga, and Saint Laurent — pledged 100 million euros ($113 million) to the cathedral’s reconstruction.

One of Pinault’s chief fashion competitors, Bernault Arnault, then stepped forward early Tuesday to double Pinault’s donation and pledged nearly $226 million (200 million euros). Arnault is the chief executive of the luxury group LVMH, which owns Celine, Givenchy, and Christian Dior.

“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,” LVMH wrote of the Arnault family on Twitter Tuesday morning.

And LOréal and the Bettencourt-Schueller Foundation, which is affiliated with the family that founded the company, donated $226 million ($200 million euros), according to the New York Times. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, even said he’d donate an unspecified amount.

Others donations include:

  • $113 million (100 million euros) from Total, the French energy company
  • $56.4 million (50 million euros) from the City of Paris
  • $11.3 million (10 million euros) from the bank, Societe Generale
  • $22.6 million (20 million euros) from the advertising group, JCDECAUX

Tuesday afternoon, the University of Notre Dame in Indiana also announced it would donate $100,000.

More than 50 GoFundMe campaigns have already been set up, totaling into the thousands of dollars. And the New York-based French Heritage Society, a nonprofit that has contributed to reconstruction projects in the past, also created a donation portal, although the organization hasn’t said how much it’s raised.

The Paris prosecutor’s office is currently investigating the fire as an accident, according to the Associated Press, and the blaze may be linked to $6.8 million in ongoing renovations at Notre Dame.

The cathedral — one of the city’s most-visited tourist destinations — was already facing $185 million in eventual repairs due to water damage and crumbling structures. France and the Catholic Church had been in dispute for years over who should pay, and wealthy donors through the nonprofit Friends of Notre Dame were increasingly footing the renovation bill.

Editor's note: This post was updated 4/16/19 at 2:54 p.m. ET.

Cover image: Damage caused to Notre-Dame Cathedral following a major fire yesterday on April 16, 2019 in Paris, France. A fire broke out on Monday afternoon and quickly spread across the building, causing the famous spire to collapse. The cause is unknown but officials have said it was possibly linked to ongoing renovation work. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)