Notre Dame photo by Daniel Arrhakis

The site of Notre-Dame has been a revered site of Paris for 850 years. Just a few days back when the country President, Emmanuel Macron was supposed to explain how he planned on meeting the demands of the “Yellow Vest” movement, the fire of Notre-Dame happened. This news came as a shock, not just to the people of France, but also to the whole world. However, the good news is that France’s wealthiest families are coming to the rescue of this national icon. The Arnault families have decided to pledge €300 million to rebuild Notre-Dame.

Currently, experts haven’t estimated the exact cost it will take to repair the cathedral. Back in 1992, a fire broke out in the Windsor Castle in England, the restoration cost was around 37 million pounds, and it was completed five years later.

The restoration of this precious building was already going on even before the fire, with a budget of 150 million euros. According to experts, now, after the fire has broken out, this amount may need to be tripled.

The Arnault families have decided to rebuild Notre-Dame. The elder Pinault, the chief executive of the luxury giant Kering, is the world’s 23rd richest person, with an estimated fortune of $37.3. billion. Bernard Arnault, on the other hand, is the chairman and chief executive of luxury group LVMH and the third richest billionaire in the world, with an estimated fortune of $90.4 billion. These two billionaires have decided to donate about €300 million to the reconstruction of the building.

Francois Pinault and his son Francois-Henri Pinault said around midnight local time that they would donate a total of €100 million through the family investments, in order to help finance the repairs of the building. On the other hand, Bernard Arnault, who is the chairman and the chief executive of rival luxury group LVMH, appreciated the gesture and pledged €200 million out of his own investments.

Francois-Henri Pinault stated in a phone interview this Tuesday with a French Radio station Europe 1, “It is the kind of tragedy which affects everyone. My 17-year-old daughter was crying in front of these images. It has a deep effect on me and my father, so we decided to react on the spot.”

Bernard Assault also said, “It is important that we, as a nation, are united around this symbol and do what we can to protect it. It is a matter of our cultural and national pride.”

Bernard Assault even took a step further. He isn’t just content with helping in the reconstruction financially. The LVMH employees will also serve as volunteers and will become a part of the architectural, creative and financial specialist, in order to support the reconstruction of the cathedral.

This donation is a reflection of the contributions of Arnault families in the French culture. This act will also boost their companies. Although the damage to the building is unprecedented, both the billionaires have shown that they are committed in the cultural preservation of the past.

The help from the billionaires is a good gesture. However, issues like these need to be tackled at a national level. That’s why the French President, Emmanuel Macron stated that he promised to rebuild the site. He also said that he would run international fundraising campaigns to assist with the effort.

This whole reconstruction process is quite lengthy. However, immediate steps need to be taken in order to prevent any further damage, because the structure is particularly vulnerable to water damage.

Although there is much uncertainty in France right now. But one thing is quite clear. This isn’t just an ordinary fire on a building. It’s a big threat to the centuries of the cultural heritage of France. The whole nation, not just the billionaires, needs to be reunited to rebuild Notre-Dame.