$790m for rebuilding Notre Dame - GulfToday

$790m for rebuilding Notre Dame


The altar surrounded by charred debris inside the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. Agence France-Presse

Pledges from French billionaires, businesses and the public sector to help rebuild Notre-Dame cathedral reached some 700 million euros (790 million dollars) on Tuesday amid an outpouring of public support for one of Europe’s most iconic monuments.

 President Emmanuel Macron has vowed the mediaeval monument will be restored after its spire and roof collapsed Monday night in a spectacular blaze thought to be linked to extensive renovation work.

 French luxury group Kering, whose brands include Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci, kicked off the campaign late Monday with a promise of 100 million euros ($113 million).

 It was followed Tuesday by a 200-million-euro pledge from Kering’s rival luxury conglomerate LVMH and the family of its founder Bernard Arnault, France’s richest person.

 The L’Oreal cosmetics group and its founding Bettencourt family offered 200 million euros, while French oil giant Total said it would contribute 100 million euros.

 Several other business executives and blue-chip French firms also said they would contribute, some announcing pledges of five, 10 or 20 million euros.

 Air France said it would offer free flights to experts brought in to help with Notre-Dame’s renovation, while glass giant Saint-Gobain promised its expertise in restoring the stained-glass windows which exploded in the fire.

 - Oak beams offered - 

 Support came from outside France as well, with Apple chief Tim Cook announcing the tech giant would give an unspecified amount to help restore a “precious heritage for future generations.”

 Some gripes emerged on social media over the huge fiscal deductions companies in both France and the US would be eligible for, with commentators saying taxpayers would be footing much of the final bill.

 But pledges were also pouring in from anonymous donors to groups including the privately run French Heritage Foundation, which said it had secured more than 13 million euros in pledges.

 On a more modest scale, a fund set up on the Leetchi fundraising platform had reached nearly 29,000 euros by Tuesday afternoon.

 France 2 television said it will broadcast a special classical music concert Wednesday night as part of the fundraising effort.

Agence France-Presse

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