French fashion billionaires offer huge donations to restore Notre Dame

French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault has pledged to donate 100 million euro (£86 million) to rebuild Notre Dame as he called the cathedral a “symbol of spirituality and our common humanity”.

The businessman and fashion mogul, who is married to the Hollywood star Salma Hayek, has been joined by fellow fashion billionaire Bernard Arnault in offering large sums for the reconstruction of the fire-damaged Paris landmark.

Mr Arnault, the chief executive of LVMH, which owns fashion houses including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Marc Jacobs, said his family and the LVMH Group will donate 200 million euros (£173 million) to the fund for the reconstruction.

Mr Pinault told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, that “it has to be a collective endeavour” to renovate the building, saying that “everyone with means and recourse should participate”.

He said it was a “shock” to see the building on fire on Monday night, adding: “We need to rebuild collectively this part of our history, of our culture, so it’s an urgent, urgent need to move forward, so I decided to unlock a very important amount of money to do that.”

Asked if others from around the world could also donate, he said: “Everyone is welcome, it goes beyond France, it’s a symbol of our culture, a symbol of spirituality and our common humanity.”

Notre Dame cathedral fire
Notre Dame cathedral fire

Mr Pinault, 56, the son of French mogul Francois Pinault, has been chairman and chief executive of Kering, formerly Pinault Distribution and PPR, since 2005.

Under his leadership the group sold off its retail assets including La Redoute and Printemps and merged with the Gucci Group, which oversees luxury brands including Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen.

He has been president of his family’s investment firm, Groupe Artemis, since 2003, and said it is this group that will donate funds, adding it comes with no strings attached or “ownership” as to how it is used to repair Notre Dame.

Mr Arnault, 70, has led LVMH since it was created in 1987 following the merger of Louis Vuitton and Moet Hennessy, transforming it in to one of the biggest luxury groups in the world.

He has overseen the acquisition of high-end brands including Celine, Kenzo, Guerlain, Emilio Pucci and DKNY.

A statement from LVMH on Twitter said: “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.”