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15th Jun 2019

Billionaires who pledged to help rebuild Notre Dame haven’t paid a penny, say church officials

The several billionaires who pledged to donate money to help rebuild the Notre Dame cathedral after it was caught in a blaze have not donated a penny yet

Reuben Pinder

*Pretends to be shocked*

After the Notre Dame cathedral caught fire in April, several billionaires who held the icon close to their hearts pledged to donate large sums of money to fund its renovation.

The reaction to the fire sparked controversy, with many highlighting the fact that those same millionaires would not offer the same help to other causes, when actual people had died, for example.

Well, it looks like they’re not even that keen to actually make those donations to Notre Dame, with a recent report claiming that the billionaire French donors who promised to donate millions to rebuild the cathedral have not yet donated a penny.

Instead, most of the donations have come from individuals through charitable foundations.

“The big donors haven’t paid. Not a cent,” said Andre Finot, senior press official at Notre Dame. “They want to know what exactly their money is being spent on and if they agree to it before they hand it over, and not just to pay employees’ salaries.”

In the aftermath of the fire, many of France’s wealthiest families promised to donate millions to the cause, almost entering a bidding war of generosity.

Francois Pinault of Artemis, the parent company of Kering that owns Gucci and Saint Laurent, promised €100 million. Patrick Pouyanne, CEO of French energy company Total, said his firm would match that figure.

Bernard Arnault, CEO of luxury giant LVMH that owns Louis Vuitton and Dior, pledged €200 million, as did the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation of the L’Oréal fortune.

But none of that money has been seen yet, according to Finot.

Construction workers have been working day and night to rebuild the cathedral, which has relied on charitable donations from individuals, most of them American and French, rather than benefitting from the hundreds of millions that were previously promised.

“Americans are very generous toward Notre Dame and the monument is very loved in America. Six out of our 11 board members are residents in the U.S.,” said Michel Picaud, president of The Friends of Notre Dame de Paris.