Two of France's billionaire families - the Pinaults and the Arnaults - seem to be competing against each other to be the most generous sponsor of Paris' Notre Dame cathedral reconstruction. The cathedral was ravaged by a fire on Monday, April 15th, which destroyed exterior and interior architectural components of the historical landmark.
French President Emmanuel Macron initiated a fundraising campaign to finance the reconstruction of the 850-year-old Notre Dame cathedral. So far, the nation's richest luxury goods magnates have answered Macron's call, pledging 300 million euros to the cause, Fortune reports.
Francois-Henri Pinault, the chairman and CEO of Gucci's parent company, Kering SA, and his father Francois, are planning to donate 100 million euros from their investment company, the family confirmed in an emailed statement to Fortune.
As if in direct competition with the Pinaults, the Arnault family announced just minutes later that they'd be doubling the Pinaults' contribution with a donation of 200-million euros to the fund. The Arnaults also pledged the use of the architectural and design resources owned by their multinational luxury goods conglomerate, LVMH.
Pinault explained in his family's statement, "This tragedy is striking all the French people, and beyond that, all those attached to spiritual values. Faced with this tragedy, everyone wishes to give life back to this jewel of our heritage as soon as possible." Fortune reports that Pinault's father is the 23rd richest person in the world and has a net worth estimated at $37.3-billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Bernard Arnault and his family are donating their contribution to "the construction of this architectural work, which makes up part of the history of France." Arnault is the third-richest person in the world, as the main shareholder of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, and has a net worth estimated at $90.4-billion.
"LVMH Group will put at the disposal of the state all of its teams — creative, architectural, financial — to help on the one hand with the long construction work, and on the other hand with the fundraising effort," the family commented in a statement.
The Pinault and Arnault families are described as "archrivals", so it's no wonder that the two are seemingly trying to outdo each other with their donations to the Notre Dame. Kering SA and LVMH are essentially the two leaders of the luxury fashion industry. One of their most highly-publicized battles was over the acquisition of Gucci Group, which the Pinaults ultimately won, Quartz reports.
The Pinaults and Arnaults have a history of battling each other for fashion supremacy, competing in the same designer and haute couture market spaces. In 2017, they were even at each other's throats in an attempt to claim ownership over the biggest and most prestigious museums in Europe.
According to an interview with the Ile-de-France's elected leader, Valerie Pecresse, the regional government has promised 10 million euros in emergency aid to the archdiocese for reconstructing the cathedral. She also explained that individuals who want to donate to the reconstruction project can do so via the non-profit Fondation du Patrimoine.