After a fire devastated Notre-Dame Cathedral on the evening of April 15, French president Emmanuel Macron announced an international fundraising campaign to raise money to reconstruct the historic building in its entirety. François-Henri Pinault, Kering chairman and CEO, has already pledged 100 million euros to the restoration efforts, and Bernard Arnault, LVMH CEO, has donated 200 million euros.
“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,” Arnault said in a statement. Pinault, meanwhile, announced that he will pay through his family’s investment firm, Artemis, and hopes the funds will help church officials “completely rebuild Notre-Dame.”
The fire services managed to save the landmark’s rectangular bell towers and structure of the building, however, the roof has been “ravaged”, with around two thirds destroyed, according to fire-service commander Jean-Claude Galler’s report at 11pm.
Franck Riester, culture minister, said it was too early to determine exactly which pieces of art had been damaged, but that many of the relics had been removed from the 12th-century cathedral as firefighters worked to control the blaze. He shared photographs of officials loading art into vans via Twitter.
“Notre-Dame is our history, our literature, part of our psyche, the place of all our great events, our epidemics, our wars, our liberations, the epicentre of our lives,” Macron said in a speech delivered after he had visited the scene. “So, I solemnly say tonight: we will rebuild it together.”
His message was no doubt directed to the thousands of onlookers gathered on the left bank of the river Seine watching the flames rise high, and listening to the sound of the spire collapsing on one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations which attracts 13 million visitors a year.
A meeting of experts and national architects is due to take place on the morning of April 16 to consider whether the building is stable and whether fire officers can set up inside to continue their work, according to Laurent Nunez, junior minister of the interior.