Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 July 2019

Notre-Dame reconstruction funds reach €300 million

Emmanuel Macron pledges to rebuild the 850 years old cathedral after it partially burns down

A view shows Notre-Dame Cathedral after a massive fire devastated large parts of the gothic gem in Paris, France April 16, 2019. Reuters 
A view shows Notre-Dame Cathedral after a massive fire devastated large parts of the gothic gem in Paris, France April 16, 2019. Reuters 

French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Tuesday he would launch a national subscription to raise funds to rebuild the Notre-Dame Cathedral, which partially burned down in a fire on Monday.

“We will rebuild Notre-Dame,” the president said.

In a speech at the scene on Monday night, Mr Macron described Notre-Dame as “our history” and “the epicentre of our lives”. “It's probably part of France's destiny and it will be our project for the years to come,” he said.

Mr Macron said France would be looking “beyond our borders” for help to restore the masterpiece of Gothic architecture.

The French government has yet to give details of the international fundraising scheme. An appeal has also been launched by the charity Fondation du Patrimoine, a private organisation working to protect French “cultural and natural” heritage.

Fundraising has already begun, with some high-profile pledges being made. Funds have reportedly already hit 300 million as two billionaire families made pledges.

Businessman Bernard Arnault's family, which owns the LVMH luxury goods group, said they were donating the money to "show their solidarity at this time of national tragedy". The French family pledged to donate €200 million (Dh829.3m) to rebuild the landmark cathedral, which is 850 years old.

French billionaires Francois-Henri Pinault and his father, Francois, said they would be giving more than €100m to help with the “complete reconstruction” of the central part of the structure, where the main spire was located.

Francois-Henri Pinault is the chief executive of Kering group, a company that owns fashion brands Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, and is married to Mexican-American actress Salma Hayek.

The Hungarian city of Szeged said Tuesday it was donating 10,000 euros ($11,300) towards the rebuilding of the fire-ravaged Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, recalling the help it received from the French capital after a devastating flood in 1879.

"One hundred and forty years ago Paris provided help to rebuild Szeged after its great flood, now in the spirit of European solidarity Szeged is helping Paris," a statement from the city's municipality said.

European Council president, Donald Tusk, called on all EU member states to contribute to the reconstruction. "I’d like to say words of comfort and solidarity with the French nation, also as citizen of [the German city of] Gdańsk, 90% destroyed and burnt, later rebuilt. You will also rebuild your cathedral!," he said on Twitter. "From Strasbourg, French capital of the EU, I call on all 28 States to take part in this task."

The US-based French Heritage Society said it too was establishing a restoration fund. A page has been set up on its website to receive donations.

Japan's government said on Tuesday it would consider sending support to the French government. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the damage to Notre-Dame was a “loss to the world and our hearts ache".

A number of unofficial fundraisers have been launched on crowdfunding websites including gofundme and JustGiving, raising thousands of pounds.

Updated: April 16, 2019 03:36 PM

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