In the wake of the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, the Walt Disney Company has pledged $5 million to help rebuild the iconic landmark.
The blaze in question started around 6:30 p.m. local time on April 15, and onlookers were stunned. As the flames took down the historic church, crowds gathered and began praying and singing. Although the fire was eventually contained and much of the valued artwork was preserved, there was still serious damage to the roof and interior of the cathedral.
The cause of the fire is not yet clear, but it is believed to be an accident, possibly related to the $6.8 million renovation project that was underway prior to the blaze. Now, the focus is on restoring the beloved cathedral.
“Notre-Dame is a beacon of hope and beauty that has defined the heart of Paris and the soul of France for centuries, inspiring awe and reverence for its art and architecture and for its enduring place in human history,” Robert A. Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, said in a statement. “The Walt Disney Company stands with our friends and neighbors in the community, offering our heartfelt support as well as a $5 million donation for the restoration of this irreplaceable masterpiece.”
Iger also confirmed the news of Disney’s donation over Twitter:
.@notredameparis is a beacon of faith, hope & beauty, inspiring awe and reverence. The Walt Disney Company stands with our friends & neighbors in Paris, with heartfelt support and a $5 million donation for the restoration of this masterpiece.
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) April 17, 2019
Total pledges to help rebuild the cathedral have reached nearly $1 billion.
Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that the tech giant will donate to the cause as well, although he didn’t confirm an exact amount.
“Apple will be donating to the rebuilding efforts to help restore Notre Dame’s precious heritage for future generations,” he wrote in part.
We are heartbroken for the French people and those around the world for whom Notre Dame is a symbol of hope. Relieved that everyone is safe. Apple will be donating to the rebuilding efforts to help restore Notre Dame’s precious heritage for future generations.🇫🇷
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) April 16, 2019
American billionaire Henry Kravis and his wife Marie-Josee Kravis also announced that they planned to donate $10 million.
“Henry Kravis, co-founder of KKR and his wife Marie-Josée Kravis, American citizens, are saddened by the fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, like all of France and the rest of the world,” a statement from equity group KKR read.”In order to help finance the reconstruction of Notre-Dame de Paris, a symbol of French heritage, Mr. and Mrs. Kravis have decided to contribute $10 million.”
Some of France’s biggest names have committed to donating sizable sums to rebuilding efforts as well. Leading the charge are three major French companies, which have pledged a combined $565 million toward reconstruction.
Luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Group and its CEO Bernard Arnault (below) pledged $226 million. His pledge was matched by the Bettencourt Meyers family, which controls cosmetics giant L’Oreal.
Fashion conglomerate Kering, which is operated by the Pinault family, has pledged $113 million.
“This tragedy is striking all the French people, and beyond that, all those attached to spiritual values,” François-Henri Pinault (below), CEO of Kering, said in a statement. “Faced with this tragedy, everyone wishes to give life back to this jewel of our heritage as soon as possible.”
French oil tycoon Patrick Pouyanne will also donate a reported $113 million via a fund set up by Fondation du Patrimoine.
French President Emmanuel Macron has promised to rebuild the monumental 12th-century cathedral, which is one of the most recognizable buildings in Paris and a major attraction for tourists.
The president will meet with officials from the United Nations’ cultural agency, where he will reportedly set out ideas for the reconstruction of Notre Dame Cathedral. He is also expected to sit down with state delegates from UNESCO, which oversees global heritage issues.
Meanwhile, religious leaders around the world have also chimed in to speak about the resilience of renowned places of worship.
“But no matter the destruction, the spirit of what it means to be a cathedral can and does survive such catastrophes,” Becky Clark, The Church of England’s director of cathedrals and church buildings, said in a statement, according to USA Today.