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  1. ITV Report

At least €500m raised by billionaires and businesses to fund Notre Dame rebuild

Francois-Henri Pinault, pictured with with Salma Hayek, has donated €100m to rebuild Notre Dame. Credit: PA

At least half a billion euros has been donated by wealthy billionaires and businesses to help rebuild Notre Dame cathedral.

French businessman and fashion mogul Francois-Henri Pinault, who is married to the Hollywood star Salma Hayek, was among the first to publicly announce he would donate €100m (£86 million).

Not to be outdone, Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of LVMH, which owns fashion houses including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Marc Jacobs, said his family and the LVMH Group will donate €200m (£173 million) to the fund for the reconstruction.

Total, the French oil company, has also donated €100m to go towards renovating the burnt-out 850-year-old building, while beauty brand L'Oreal also pledged €100m to the cause, taking the total to at least €500m.

It remains unclear just how much rebuilding the structure will cost, as firefighters only managed to put out the last of the blaze on Tuesday morning.

Speaking about his donation on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Pinault, who is thought to be worth £19bn, said "it has to be a collective endeavour" to renovate the building, saying “everyone with means and recourse should participate”.

He said it was a “shock” to see the building on fire on Monday night, adding: “We need to rebuild collectively this part of our history, of our culture, so it’s an urgent, urgent need to move forward, so I decided to unlock a very important amount of money to do that."

Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of LVMH, has donated €200m to rebuild Notre Dame cathedral. Credit: PA

Asked if others from around the world could also donate, he said: “Everyone is welcome, it goes beyond France, it’s a symbol of our culture, a symbol of spirituality and our common humanity.”

There has been a number of offers from across the world to help rebuild the structure, including from major political leaders.

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European council president Donald Tusk has urged EU member states to dig deep to help fund the project, while Russian leader Vladimir Putin said he would be happy to send experts to restore the cathedral.

French president Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild the cathedral and has said he will launch an international fundraising scheme to fund the project.

Firefighters battled to put out the blaze at the 850-year-old Gothic cathedral. Credit: B.Moser BSPP

Mr Macron, who visited the historic Gothic structure while the blaze was ongoing, said: "We'll rebuild this cathedral all together and it's undoubtedly part of the French destiny and the project we'll have for the coming years.

"That's what the French expect [and] because it's what our history deserves."