Billionaires ‘Yet to Pay a Penny’ Toward Notre Dame Reconstruction

Cranes work at Notre Dame cathedral, in Paris, Thursday, April 25, 2019. French police scientists were starting to examine Notre Dame Cathedral on Thursday for the first time since last week's devastating fire. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
AP Photo/Thibault Camus

Despite promises from some of France’s most famous billionaires, a spokesman from the Notre Dame cathedral claims none have sent any money so far to help the rebuild following April’s devastating fire.

On Saturday, the cathedral celebrated its first mass in the two months following the fire which destroyed the historic timber roof along with the cathedral’s spire, but according to press official André Finot, the pledged large donations to rebuild have not arrived, France 24 reports.

“The big donors haven’t paid. Not a cent,” Finot said and added: “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.”

Famous French billionaires offered millions of euros to the cathedral such as François-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of the international luxury group Kering, who promised to donate 100 million euros.

Around 850 million euros have been promised by large and small donors but according to the culture ministry, less than ten per cent — or 80 million euros — have actually been received by the cathedral.

Jean-Jacques Aillagon, a spokesman for the Pinault Collection, said that the family were waiting for a “contractual framework” before sending the money. Spokesmen for other major donors gave similar comments saying that the money would be sent as work on the project began.

Several proposals have been made for the rebuilding of the roof of the cathedral including one from Eight Inc, the designers of Apple’s flagship stores, that would see the cathedral rebuilt with a glass roof.

Tom Wilkinson, writing for architectural magazine Domus, even proposed building an Islamic minaret on the cathedral to pay tribute to Algerians who protested the French government in the 1960s.

At the end of May, fears over a redesign of the roof were temporarily quashed after the French Senate voted to back a traditional rebuilding of the structure, rejecting the “inventive reconstruction” plans for French President Emmanuel Macron.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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