Several of the world's richest French billionaires donate more than $500 million to rebuild Notre Dame

By Caitlin O'Kane

/ CBS News

Notre Dame "interwoven" with French history

Several of France's wealthiest families are pledging millions to help rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral after Monday's devastating fire. So far, the totals from four major donors already exceed $500 million.

Bernard Arnault, one of the world's richest men, is donating 200 million euros to fund the reconstruction of Notre Dame – that's about $226 million. Arnault and his family announced the donation via their company's Twitter account.

Arnault is the head of LVMH, a massive company with 70 worldwide brands under its umbrella, including Louis Vuitton, Sephora and Marc Jacobs. With a net worth of more than $90 billion, Arnault and his family are ranked fourth-richest in the world by Forbes.

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The French family and their Paris-based company announced their contribution to Notre Dame on Tuesday, the day after the fire at the iconic cathedral. "The Arnault family and LVMH Group, in solidarity with this national tragedy, are committed to assist with the reconstruction of this extraordinary, symbol of France its heritage and its unity," their statement read.

"In the wake of this national tragedy, the Arnault family and the LVMH Group pledge their support for #NotreDame. They will donate a total of 200 million euros to the fund for reconstruction of this architectural work, which is an integral part of the history of France." pic.twitter.com/utvJT8xJht

— LVMH (@LVMH) April 16, 2019

The donation will go toward the "reconstruction of this architectural work, which is a core part of French history," the family said. LVMH Group said it will aid authorities in the reconstruction and fundraising process, which is already underway.

Another well-known French billionaire has also joined the fundraising process. François-Henri Pinault announced on his company's Twitter account that he and his father will contribute the "funds needed to fully rebuild Notre Dame de Paris, in order to bring this jewel of our heritage back to life as soon as possible."

Pinault is the head of Kering, a group of luxury brands that include Gucci and Saint Laurent. He is married to Mexican and American actress Salma Hayek, who posted photos of the burning cathedral on her Instagram and wrote: "As many others I'm in deep shock and sadness to witness the beauty of Notre-Dame turn into smoke. I love you Paris."

“Faced with this tragedy, my father and I have decided to contribute to the funds needed to fully rebuild Notre Dame de Paris, in order to bring this jewel of our heritage back to life as soon as possible.”
François-Henri Pinault #notredamedeparis 2/2

— Kering (@KeringGroup) April 16, 2019

The Pinault family has a net worth $35.1 billion, according to Forbes. A French journalist reported that the family pledged 100 million euros.

La famille Pinault débloque 100 millions d'euros pour Notre-Dame de Paris (François-Henri Pinault à l'AFP)

— William Plummer (@PlummerWilliam) April 15, 2019

In another major donation, cosmetics company L'Oreal tweeted that the Bettencourt Meyers family and the L'Oréal Group will donate 100 million euros. Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, the richest woman in the world, is granddaughter of L'Oreal's founder. Her family still owns a large part of the company and runs a philanthropic foundation, aimed progressing sciences and arts in France, according to Forbes.

Total, a French company that produces and markets fuels, natural gas and low-carbon electricity, is also donating 100 million euros to the French heritage foundation, La Fondation du patrimoine, "to help the reconstruction of this architectural jewel."

Following the terrible fire that damaged Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the most iconic monuments of Paris and France, we pledge our support for #NotreDame by donating 100M euros to @Fond_Patrimoine to help the reconstruction of this architectural jewel. https://t.co/Kqszwy9XUJ

— Total (@Total) April 16, 2019

The cathedral was undergoing $6.8 million in renovations on the church's spire when the massive fire engulfed it.

Fire burns Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris 43 photos

First published on April 16, 2019 / 8:54 AM

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Fire burns Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

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