How to donate to Notre Dame restoration: French billionaires pledge millions
A website facilitating donations to the restoration of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France, has crashed after proving unable to cope with a flood of contributions prompted by Monday night’s devastating fire.
The site—Friends of Notre Dame—was set up to receive donations to help with ongoing renovation costs to the 850-year-old building. But after a fire destroyed the church’s roof and spire on Monday, web users flocked to the site to donate for now-planned repairs.
The fire broke out on Monday evening, spreading through the iconic cathedral and leaving a plume of thick smoke rising above central Paris. Firefighters battled for several hours to contain and quell the blaze, eventually managing to save Notre Dame’s gothic structure, two towers and some of the priceless historical artifacts and works of art stored within.
But the fire inflicted “colossal damages” on the famous church, Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said. French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild the parts of the church destroyed. The president said he would call on the world’s “greatest talents” to help.
Sky News reported that the cost is expected to run into the billions of dollars, but citizens of France and further afield are already rallying to the cause.
While the Friends of Notre Dame websitegrappledwith unprecedented traffic, two French billionaires also pledged millions to help rebuild the cathedral. François-Henri Pinault—the chairman and CEO of the Kering group who is married to Salma Hayek and thought to be worth some $24 billion—said in a statement he would give around $113 million to “completely rebuild Notre Dame.”
His statement, sent to Le Figaro, said the “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.”
Fellow billionaire Bernard Arnault soon joined Pinault, saying his family would contribute around $226 million to the rebuild. Calling the fire a “national tragedy,” Arnault said in a statement that the “extraordinary cathedral” is “a symbol of France, of its heritage and of French unity," a statement said.
The Fondation du Patrimoine, a private body that protects and enhances French heritage, said it intends to launch an international appeal for donations to help rebuild the cathedral. “All donations received will be paid in full to the restoration site,” it explained on Twitter, in order “for Notre Dame to be reborn from her ashes.”