French billionaires, Francois-Henri Pinault and his father Francois Pinault have officially signed over $109 million toward rebuilding Notre Dame Cathedral.
Francois-Henri Pinault is the chairman and chief executive of Kering, a Paris-based luxury group behind brands including Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta, Boucheron, Brioni and Pomellato.
The younger Pinault, who has been married to the Mexican and American actress Salma Hayek since 2009, made the pledge in the hours following the fire. The Pinaults signed the donation agreement at the Archdiocese of Paris last week.
It comes after church, and business officials said in mid-June that the billionaire French donors who publicly promised flashy donations totaling hundreds of million had not yet paid a penny.
“It is certainly vulgar to make a gesture and then promote it, but the idea was to generate others,” said Francois Pinault, who is worth $37.9 billion according to the CEOWORLD magazine’s rich list index, mainly from his family’s 41 per cent stake in Kering.
Other large donation pledges quickly followed the Pinaults’. His rival, French billionaire Bernard Arnault of luxury goods group LVMH, soon followed suit, pledging $218 million. The billionaire boss of the company behind brands such as Christan Dior, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton, Bernard Arnault is worth $106 billion. Bernard Arnault is the world’s second-richest man. His company Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy – known as LVMH – owns some of the world’s most exclusive brands.
The Bettencourt Schueller Foundation set up from the L’Oreal fortune also promised $218 million. The sum represents a long-awaited financial boost toward the church’s reconstruction. Arnault finalized his donation agreement with the Notre Dame Foundation last week.
French President Emmanuel Macron set a target of five years – which will be when France is set to host the 2024 Summer Olympics – for the completion of Notre Dame restoration efforts. Macron has appointed former army chief Gen. Jean-Louis Georgelin to oversee the reconstruction. But critics have said the timeline is overly ambitious.
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