Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 33° Cloudy
News >  World

French billionaire gives $109 million to rebuild Notre Dame

Francois-Henri Pinault, CEO of French luxury group Kering, left, his father Francois Pinault, right, and Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit, center, pose after signing an agreement to raise money for the rebuild of Notre-Dame cathedral, in Paris, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. French billionaire Francois Pinault and his son Francois-Henri Pinault have made a $109 million donation for the rebuilding of Notre Dame Cathedral. (Thibault Camus / AP)
Francois-Henri Pinault, CEO of French luxury group Kering, left, his father Francois Pinault, right, and Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit, center, pose after signing an agreement to raise money for the rebuild of Notre-Dame cathedral, in Paris, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. French billionaire Francois Pinault and his son Francois-Henri Pinault have made a $109 million donation for the rebuilding of Notre Dame Cathedral. (Thibault Camus / AP)
By Claire Parker Associated Press

PARIS – French billionaire Francois Pinault and son Francois-Henri Pinault have officially signed documents setting aside $109 million toward rebuilding Notre Dame Cathedral, following months of delay that left officials largely reliant on small charity donations to fund the first phase of repairs.

Surrounded by portraits of former cardinals, the Pinaults signed the donation agreement at the Archdiocese of Paris Tuesday. The money will give the Notre Dame Foundation a much-awaited financial boost as authorities draw up plans for the cathedral’s reconstruction, following the devastating fire on April 15.

Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit says “everyone gives what he can according to his needs, but the big donors give us breathing room.”

Francois Pinault, whose international luxury group Kering owns Gucci and Saint Laurent, pledged the money directly after the fire. His rival, French billionaire Bernard Arnault of luxury goods group LVMH, soon followed suit, pledging $218 million. The Bettencourt Schueller Foundation of the L’Oreal fortune also promised 200 million euros.

Arnault finalized his donation agreement with the Notre Dame Foundation last week.

Francois Pinault said that they hoped announcing their donation publicly would motivate others to chip in as well.

“It is certainly vulgar to make a gesture and then promote it, but the idea was to generate others,” he said.

A groundswell of support quickly materialized in the hours and days after the blaze ravaged the monument.

“It came spontaneously during that evening, when we didn’t yet know whether the cathedral could be saved,” Aupetit said of the Pinault family’s pledge. “It launched a movement that is still ongoing, because we still have 140 donations a week.”

The foundation received $39 million from 46,000 individuals, 60 businesses and 29 municipalities between April 15 and the end of September, according to a statement. Aupetit said he’s received donations as small as one euro.

But big donations, like the Pinaults’, have taken months to materialize. Meanwhile, the foundation has relied mainly on small, individual donors from France and the U.S. to pay the salaries of workers still laboring to clean up the site and contain the damage from the blaze.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.