Billionaire Princess Yachts owner gives £173m to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral

The French billionaire owner of Plymouth’s Princess Yachts has pledged 200million euros to help rebuild fire-ravaged Notre Dame cathedral.

Business magnate Bernard Arnault’s family and his LVMH luxury goods group are to donate the equivalent of £173million towards repairing the 855-year-old Paris landmark.

Mr Arnault’s pledge follows a similar 100million euros (£86million) donation from Francois Henri Pinault, who heads the Kering luxury goods company and is married to Hollywood actress Salma Hayek.

Mr Arnualt’s investment group, L Capital 2 FCPR, a division of LVHM, bought a 75% stake in Princess Yachts for 200 million euros in 2008.

The LVMH group includes more than 60 international luxury brands, including: Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Fendi, De Beers, Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Krug.

In a statement, Mr Arnault says: “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.”

Firefighters had fully extinguished the catastrophic fire this morning but the inferno had left a nation mourning the devastation of its cultural and historic “epicentre”.

Hundreds of firefighters tackled the blaze last night, battling to stop it wreaking complete destruction of the treasured facade after flames torched the roof, sending its spire crashing to the ground before crowds of horrified Parisians.

Meanwhile, teams raced to recover what treasures they could from the 850-year-old Gothic masterpiece, which housed priceless artefacts and relics of huge religious and international significance.

The blaze, which broke out as the last crowds of tourists ended visits at around 6pm (7pm French time), was finally declared to be “completely under control” nearly nine hours later.

And this morning firefighters in the French capital announced that the fire was fully extinguished.

Donations have poured in to rebuild the national monument, while French president Emmanuel Macron said a national subscription would be launched when he visited the scene on Monday night.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said most artworks and religious relics were removed from Notre Dame as firefighters worked to control the blaze.

France’s culture minister Franck Riester posted photos on social media of people loading art on to trucks.

The relic of the crown of thorns and a number of priceless artefacts were taken from the cathedral to Paris City Hall for safekeeping. Ms Hidalgo shared an image of the objects on Twitter.

“The crown of thorns, the tunic of Saint Louis and several other major works are now in a safe place,” she says.

Ashes from the blaze were scattered along the footpaths of the Seine earlier this morning.

Bridges on to the Ile de la Cite – the island in the Seine where the cathedral stands – were closed but joggers were free to take their morning run on the river banks either side of the building.

Crowds of people had come to view the damage and take pictures, while firefighters could be seen taking a break on the walls around Notre Dame’s gardens.

Workmen could be seen on the cathedral’s stone balconies, while scaffolding surrounds the area where the spire once stood.

This story is from PlymouthLive.

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