Yesterday afternoon a fire engulfed the medieval cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris.
One of France’s most famous landmarks, the building’s spire and roof have collapsed but the main structure, including the two bell towers, has been saved, according to the BBC.
A Paris fire official said the structure had been preserved after hundreds of fire fighters worked throughout the night to extinguish the flames.
And now two French billionaires have pledged to donate money to help repair the 850-year-old Gothic cathedral.
On Monday night, François-Henri Pinault said he and his family will donate €100 million (£86.3m) to help reconstruct Notre-Dame.
Pinault, who is married to actress Salma Hayek, is the chairman and CEO of Kering, the French-based luxury group behind Gucci, Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent and other world-renowned brands. He’s also president of Groupe Artémis, which owns the fine arts auction house Christie’s.
He told Le Figaro, France’s daily newspaper, that he hopes the money would help to ‘completely rebuild Notre Dame’.
In the statement Pinault said: ‘This tragedy strikes all the French and beyond all those who are attached to spiritual values. Faced with such a tragedy, everyone wants to revive this jewel of our heritage as quickly as possible.
‘My father [François Pinault] and I have decided to release as of now from the funds of Artemis a sum of 100 million euros to participate in the effort that will be necessary for the complete reconstruction of Notre Dame.’
Meanwhile, businessman and art collector Bernard Arnault also announced last night that his family will donate €200 million (£172.7m) to help reconstruction. Arnault is the chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH, the group that owns Louis Vuitton and Dior amongst other fashion houses, and last year became the richest person in fashion.
Arnault’s family released a similar statement to Pinault and pledged to help to rebuild Notre Dame.
‘The Arnault family and the LVMH group would like to show their solidarity at this time of national tragedy, and are joining up to help rebuild this extraordinary cathedral, which is a symbol of France, of its heritage and of French unity,’ they said.
Both donations follow French President Emmanuel Macron’s vow to rebuild the medieval cathedral. Branding the blaze a ‘terrible tragedy’, he arrived on the ground less than three hours after the fire started, and pledged to launch an international fundraising scheme for the reconstruction.
Fashion house Dior posted a sentimental message on Instagram, saying they stood behind Notre-Dame, ‘one of Paris’s most iconic and celebrated monuments. Its beauty and symbolism remain untouched.’
Anne Hathaway also took to social media amid the news. ‘I know even flames cannot diminish her sacredness,’ she wrote in a heartfelt post. ‘Still, not her. Please. Not her.’