People look at Notre-Dame Cathedral two days after a massive fire devastated large parts of the Gothic structure in Paris, April 17, 2019. (REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)
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Pledged donations from French billionaires, companies and ordinary citizens for the restoration of fire-ravaged Notre-Dame cathedral are approaching 900 million euros after just two days, a reflection of the landmark's resonance in the national psyche.The first major donation to Notre-Dame came from Francois-Henri Pinault, the billionaire head of luxury goods group Kering that owns fashion brands Gucci and Saint Laurent.Pinault, 56, a celebrity figure in part because he is married to actress Salma Hayek, pledged 100 million euros ($113 million) as the blaze was still raging – a decision dictated by emotion, a spokesperson for his family's holding company said.Hours later, his great rival Bernard Arnault, France's richest man and the head of Louis Vuitton owner LVMH, announced he was donating 200 million euros, moved by the alarming pictures on TV, according to a group spokesman.Adrian Palmer, the head of the marketing and reputation faculty at the Henley Business School, said all three billionaire families and their companies were closely aligned with the nation, and benefit from reinforcing the link.The Bettencourt-Meyer family has declined to comment on its donations.
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