French billionaire François-Henri Pinault, who is married to actress Salma Hayek, is stepping up to do what he can to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral after the 850-year-old landmark went up in flames on Monday.
Pinault, 56, and his father, François Pinault, pledged to donate more than $100 million from the family holding company for the repairs of the cathedral. Pinault's 82-year-old father is worth an estimated $37.3 billion, according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index.
"My father and myself have decided to release a sum of €100 million [$113 million] from our Artemis funds to participate in the effort that will be necessary for the complete reconstruction of Notre Dame," Pinault said in a statement to French newspaper Le Figaro.
Hayek took to Instagram to share her support for the city of Paris on Monday. "As many others I'm in deep shock and sadness to witness the beauty of Notre Dame turn into smoke. I love you Paris," she wrote in both English and French.
Hayek and Pinault have a home in Paris and were married there on Valentine's Day in 2009 at the City Hall of the Sixth Arrondissement, which is less than a mile from Notre Dame.
Other French moneymakers have also pledged involvement in the rebuild, including the family of Bernard Arnault, owners of the luxury goods group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, who plan to contribute 200 million euros, according to The New York Times.
French President Emmanuel Macron stood outside the still-burning structure on Monday before the fire was completely put out and vowed to rebuild the historic cathedral via an international fundraising effort.
"We will rebuild Notre Dame," he said. "Because that is what the French expect."
French prosecutors are investigating what caused the blaze, which is widely suspected to be an accident. The first fire alarm was triggered at 6:20 p.m., Paris prosecutor Rémy Heitz told The New York Times on Tuesday. Checks were carried out but no fire was found. A second alarm went off at 6:43 p.m., and a fire was discovered in the wooden framework of the attic.
"In the meantime, the cathedral had been evacuated, because a Mass had started shortly before," he said.
He said that "it will be a long and complex investigation," adding that so far, the fire appears to have been an accident. "Nothing at this stage suggests a voluntary act."
Two police officers and one firefighter were injured in the emergency response, but no one was killed.
Notre Dame Cathedral, which was built in the 12th and 13th centuries, is visited by about 13 million people a year. Pope Francis tweeted a prayer for the structure on Tuesday. "Today we unite in prayer with the people of France, as we wait for the sorrow inflicted by the serious damage to be transformed into hope with reconstruction. Holy Mary, Our Lady, pray for us. #NotreDame," he wrote.
Today we unite in prayer with the people of France, as we wait for the sorrow inflicted by the serious damage to be transformed into hope with reconstruction. Holy Mary, Our Lady, pray for us. #NotreDame— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 16, 2019
A Vatican spokesman, Alessandro Gisotti, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that Pope Francis was praying for "all those who are trying to cope with this dramatic situation."0comments
About two-thirds of the roof is completely destroyed from the nine-hour blaze, as is the famous lacy spire. Thankfully, the iconic bell towers and main structure were able to be saved. Crowds gathered outside the scene to pray and sing "Ave Maria."
Photo credit: Instagram / @salmahayek