Pledges to Rebuild Notre Dame Already Total to Almost $700 Million. Here Are the Brands Chipping In

Just 24 hours after the devastating fire, household names are stepping up

The 850-year-old cathedral caught fire at 6:20 p.m. Central European Summer Time yesterday. Within hours, pledges of help began rolling in.
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Funds pledged to repair Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral following yesterday’s devastating fire have reached €600 million (about $677 million)—a tidy sum, considering that the tragedy is scarcely 24 hours old.

The 850-year-old cathedral caught fire at 6:20 p.m. Central European Summer Time yesterday. Within hours, pledges of help began rolling in. And while some of that money has been donated by ordinary citizens (and even, as of this morning, Indiana’s Notre Dame University), corporations are responsible for a considerable chunk.

Many of these entities are, admittedly, probably unfamiliar to the American ear, such as construction and telecom conglomerate Bouygues and financial services giant Fimalac. But a good many are household names here, especially to those with the means to buy luxury items.

Yesterday, French billionaire François-Henri Pinault stepped forward with a pledge of €100 million euros (about $113 million) for the rebuilding effort. Pinault is the chairman of holding company Artémis, which controls Kering, which in turn sells a large stable of international luxury brands, including Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, Gucci and Bottega Veneta.

“Faced with this tragedy, everyone wishes to bring this jewel of our heritage back to life as soon as possible.”
-François-Henri Pinault, chairman, Artémis, on his $113 million donation

“Faced with this tragedy, everyone wishes to bring this jewel of our heritage back to life as soon as possible,” Pinault said in a statement. “Today, my father and I have committed to donate €100 million from the Artémis fund to take part in the effort needed to fully rebuild Notre-Dame de Paris.”

Following suit were two more of France’s prominent business dynasties. The Bettencourt Meyers family, which controls beauty colossus L’Oreal, and Bernard Arnault, the chairman of LVMH, each pledged €200 million (just under $226 million) to the rebuilding.

An ultra high-end watch, perfume, accessories and liquor empire, LVMH owns brands including Tag Heuer, Guerlain, Christian Dior, Dom Perignon and Louis Vuitton. Both the Arnault family and the LVMH Group were “committed to assist,” according to a statement released today.

“In the meantime,” the statement continued, “the LVMH Group puts at the disposal of the State and the relevant authorities all its teams—including creative, architectural and financial specialists—to help with the long work of reconstruction and fundraising, which is already in progress.”

(The 70-year-old Arnault is a business rival of the 82-year-old Pinault, and his offer of €200 million has been regarded as a public trounce to Pinault’s pledge of €100 million.)

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, Apple CEO Tim Cook dropped a tweet early this morning in which he pledged that his trillion-dollar company will join in the effort to rebuild the historic church.

“We are heartbroken for the French people and those around the world for whom Notre Dame is a symbol of hope,” Cook wrote. “Relieved that everyone is safe. Apple will be donating to the rebuilding efforts to help restore Notre Dame’s precious heritage for future generations.”

Cook was not specific in terms of the amount that Apple would donate.

Those of lesser means—corporate executives or otherwise—have a choice of where to send donations, should they wish to make them. As of this morning, GoFundMe had at least 50 different fundraising drives set up. But the more official channels belong to preservation groups including the Friends of Notre Dame and the French Heritage Society.

Constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries, Notre Dame is UNESCO World Heritage site visited by some 13 million people a year. Monday’s fire prompted a near-global outpouring of grief as millions watched video of the the fire posted by major media outlets as well as ordinary bystanders.

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