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"I had to do something," says €100m Notre Dame donor Francois-Henri Pinault

16 Apr 2019 euronews

The man behind an extraordinary donation to the Notre Dame restoration project has spoken exclusively to Euronews about why he felt compelled to help.

"Last night, I was like many French people watching the tragedy of Notre Dame burning in front of me and I was so in shocked and I was among kids, adults, all people crying looking at that, and I said I had to do something," said Francois-Henri Pinault on the telephone.

Pinault is confident that the money will be raised but is hopeful that it can be restored speedily, and with the most capable people involved.

"I think the best artisan in the world should rebuild that cathedral so that we all together, not only the French people but all together because is really the heritage of the culture of humanity that we could be very proud of the reaction and what has been achieved with this restoration. Again in such an event financial resources shouldn't be the concern."

Parts of the cathedral collapsed after it went up in flames on Monday evening, with firefighters working well into Tuesday morning to extinguish the blaze.

French president Emmanuel Macron vowed the world-famous landmark would be rebuilt, and a number of fundraising efforts have been launched.

A national collection was organised by the French heritage organisation, Fondation du Patrimoine, and can be seen here.

Here are the other key donations so far:

Arnault family: €200 million

French billionaire businessman Bernard Arnault's family and his LVMH luxury goods group — a rival of Kering — will donate €200 million for repairs.

"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," it said in a statement.

"They will donate a total sum of €200 million to the fund dedicated to the reconstruction of this architectural work, which is part of the History of France.

"In the meantime, the LVMH Group puts at the disposal of the State and the authorities all of its teams, creative, architectural, financial, to help with the lengthy reconstruction work and the fundraising which is ahead."

Total: €100 million

The CEO of French energy company Total said the firm would be making a €100 million contribution to the rebuild.

Ile-de-France region: €10 million

The Ile-de-France region, which comprises the greater Paris region, will immediately free up €10 million to use for the first repairs.

Paris' mayor Anne Hidalgo has proposed to host an "international conference for donors" to coordinate the pledges to restore the cathedral.

It is thought renovations could take decades to be completed.

In pictures: Notre Dame fire

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