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France’s richest man pledges €200 million to rebuild Notre Dame

(Getty)

The campaign to rebuild the cathedral has so far raised half a billion euros

France’s richest man has pledged €200 million (£173 million/$226 million) to help restore Notre Dame cathedral in Paris after the devastating fire on Monday evening.

Billionaire Bernard Arnault is the biggest donor to the half a billion euros that have so far been pledged to save the cathedral. François-Henri Pinault, husband of Hollywood actress Salma Hayek, has also offered €100 million euros for the restoration, while multinational oil company Total also pledged €100 million.

The LVMH luxury goods company, headed by Mr Arnault, said in a statement: “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.”

The Mail also reports that Valerie Pecresse, President of the Île-de-France region, has pledged €10 million of “emergency aid” to help the reconstruction.

“This reconstruction, which will obviously be very expensive, will mobilise a whole country,” she added.

On Tuesday afternoon, Air France said it would offer free travel to anyone taking part in the restoration work on the cathedral.

“All Air France and Air France-KLM teams around the world have since been deeply affected and saddened,” the airline said.

“That’s why Benjamin Smith, CEO of Air France-KLM, made the decision with Anne-Marie Couderc, President of Air France-KLM, and Anne Rigail, Chief Executive Officer of Air France, that Air France will ensure the free transport of all the official actors who will take part in the reconstruction of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.

“In addition, the Air France-KLM Group will set up a voluntary collection system for its customers in the coming days to help finance the reconstruction work.”

The cause of the fire remains unknown, although prosecutors say they are treating it as “involuntary”, meaning they are ruling out