// Billionaire owners of Kering & LVMH pledge hundreds of millions to help repair Notre Dame de Paris
// The Pinault family – owners of Gucci & Yves Saint Laurent parent company Kering – will donate £86m
// The Arnault family – owners of Louis Vuitton & Dior parent company LVMH – pledged £173m
// Paris’ iconic and World Heritage-listed Notre Dame Cathedral was ravaged by fire last night
The French billionaire families that own two of the world’s biggest luxury retail empires have pledged a combined €300 million (£260 million) to help repair Paris’ iconic Notre Dame Cathedral.
Bernard Arnault’s family and his LVMH group announced it would donate €200 million (£173 million) to help repair the World Heritage-listed cathedral, whose spire collapsed amid flames that ravaged the structure last night.
“The Arnault family and the LVMH group would like to show their solidarity at this time of national tragedy, and are joining up to help rebuild this extraordinary cathedral, which is a symbol of France, of its heritage and of French unity,” LVMH said in a statement.
Arnault’s pledge follows a similar €100 million (£86 million) donation from the Pinault family, who own the Kering luxury goods company.
Kering chief executive Francois-Henri Pinault is quoted in French media as saying he and his father, Francois, had decided to donate the money to help with the “complete reconstruction” of the 800-year-old Gothic cathedral.
Kering operates luxury retail and fashion brands such as Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen.
Meanwhile, LVMH is the parent company of Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Dior, Givenchy, Kenzo, Sephora and Bvlgari.
The fire at Notre Dame began last night at around 4.30pm GMT and quickly reached the roof of the cathedral, destroying its famous stained-glass rose windows and the wooden interior before toppling the spire.
While a number of fires reached the imposing front towers, firefighters successfully stopped it before it could lead to any severe damage.
Emergency teams also managed to rescue valuable artwork and religious items.
By the early hours of this morning, the fire was declared under control.
Search teams have already started assessing the extent and cause of the damage.
Its renovation works were estimated to cost around €150 million (£130 million).