France's richest man pledges 200 million euros to repair Notre Dame

France's richest man pledges 200 million euros to repair Notre Dame

Last night, tragic images began to circulate on the internet, showing France's iconic Notre Dame cathedral in flames. As hundreds of years of history burnt away, many were moved to the streets of Paris, while thousands of others across the world shared their lament online.

Firefighters were able to control the fire to an extent, making sure the structure and its two towers remained intact, but the roof and spire of the architectural masterpiece unfortunately collapsed.

Initial reports showed smoke rising from the cathedral:

In the wake of the tragic blaze, many are already discussing what we can do to help save what remains of the structure and possibly rebuild. French President Emmanuel Macron has announced that an international fundraising scheme is in the works, calling the fire "a terrible tragedy".

"We'll rebuild this cathedral all together and it's undoubtedly part of the French destiny and the project we'll have for the coming years," Macron said.

It's recently emerged, however, that some wealthy individuals are willing to invest millions of their own money to help this rebuilding scheme, including Bernard Arnault, France's richest man. Arnault, who is head of the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy group, has become the largest benefactor of the appeal Macron launched, promising €200 million ($226 million) towards the restoration.

This follows the news that Frnech tycoon Francois- Henri Pinault, the billionaire married to actress Salma Hayek, pledged €100 million towards the project.

"My father (François Pinault) and I," Pinault's son reportedly announced, "have decided to release from Artemis funds a sum of 100 million euros to participate in the effort that will be necessary for the complete reconstruction of Notre Dame."

LVMH has since promised to double this amount with their donation. In a statement, the company wrote:

"The Arnault family and the LVMH group, in solidarity with this national tragedy, are associated with the reconstruction of this extraordinary cathedral, symbol of France, its heritage and its unity.

"In the meantime, the LVMH Group puts at the disposal of the state and the concerned authorities all its teams, creative, architectural, financial, to help the long work of reconstruction on the one hand, and of fundraising on the other hand."

Here's the heartbreaking moment that the Notre Dame spire collapsed:

In addition to this fundraising, the country's Heritage Foundation has launched a national collection on its website, while president of the Ile-de-France region, Valérie Pécresse, has revealed that there will €10 million in emergency aid to help start the work. "This reconstruction, which will obviously be very expensive, will mobilise a whole country," Pécresse said.

The fire eventually came under control, but after nine hours of the blaze, the damage was extensive. The cause of the fire is yet unknown, but is thought to be accidental in nature, possibly related to extensive renovation works taking place at the time. It will be several days before the fire is entirely extinguished, officials have predicted.