French Billionaire Pledges 100 Million Euros to Rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral
Francois-Henri Pinault vows to fund repair work for historic gothic landmark in Paris
French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault has pledged 100 million euros ($131m) to repair the damage caused to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday, when a fire engulfed the 12th-century building, destroying the roof and spire.
Pinault, the husband of Mexican-American actress Salma Hayek, made the announcement just hours after a huge blaze took hold of the 850-year-old gothic landmark in the heart of Paris.
Mr. Pinault, who married Hayek in 2009, is chief executive of Kering, the parent company that owns top brands such as Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent.
The news follows a public plea from a visibly emotional French President Emmanuel Macron, who spoke outside the remains of the cathedral and announced a national fundraising campaign to restore Notre Dame would be launched Tuesday.
Macron called for help from the world's "greatest talents" to rebuild the historic monument.
He revealed that the "worst had been avoided" and the facade and two towers saved but added that "the next hours will be difficult."
According to the Daily Mail, Paris fire brigade chief Jean-Claude Gallet said "we can consider that the main structure of Notre-Dame has been saved and preserved" as well as the two towers.
So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2019
Pres. Trump called the Notre Dame fire "a terrible sight to behold."— ABC News (@ABC) April 15, 2019
"That is beyond countries, that's beyond anything. That's a part of our growing up, it's a part of culture. It's a part of our lives." https://t.co/8EdVeuDkra pic.twitter.com/sYlZQVhnNj
Deputy Interior Minister Laurent Nunez, also present at the scene on Monday evening, said that for the first time "the fire had decreased in intensity" while still urging "extreme caution."
The Vatican on Monday expressed its "incredulity" and "sadness," expressing "our closeness with French Catholics and with the Parisian population."
The cause of the blaze was not immediately confirmed.
The cathedral had been undergoing intense restoration work which the fire service said could be linked to the blaze.
French prosecutors said it was being treated as an "involuntary" fire, indicating that foul play was ruled out for now.