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When a devastating fire tore through Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris two months ago, French billionaires pledged to donate millions to rebuild it.
After the cathedral caught fire on April 15, with its famous spire soon succumbing to the flames, Parisians and tourists came together to mourn their loss.
In the hours and days after the devastation, donations began pouring in from private businesses and local authorities, as well as wealthy individuals who could afford to donate large sums.
According to church and business officials, it’s mainly American and French individuals who are paying towards the restoration of the French national monument, via Notre Dame charitable foundations.
The money is being used to pay the bills and salaries for up to 150 workers employed by the cathedral since the fire destroyed most of its roof and caused the spire to collapse.
That charity is currently in the process of handing over its first private payment to the cathedral, in the amount of 3.6 million euros.
The president of The Friends of Notre Dame de Paris, which was founded in 2017, Michel Picaud, estimates 90 per cent of the donations it’s received have come from American donors.
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 US.
Despite this, almost $1 billion was promised by some of France’s richest people and companies immediately after the blaze. This prompted criticism from many who questioned their ‘selective charity’ and urged them to re-evaluate their priorities.
French billionaire businessman Bernard Arnault’s family and his luxury goods group, LVMH, pledged €200 million, while Francois Henri Pinault – head of the Kering luxury goods company – promised €100 million.
According to Andre Finot, senior press official at Notre Dame, none of that money has been seen – because the donors are waiting to see how the reconstruction plans progress and fight it out over contracts.
The big donors haven’t paid. Not a cent. 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.
When contacted by Associated Press about their failure to follow through on promises, these individuals and companies said they still intended to do so.
Only time will tell whether these pledged donations come to fruition in the near future.
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