The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris has been saved after fire broke out in the early hours of Monday evening, but not before extensive damage was inflicted on the 856-year-old building, with much of its roof collapsing into itself, along with its main spire.
The fire had blazed for for eight hours before firefighters were able to largely contain it, including saving its two iconic rectangular towers and many of its precious relics, including the Crown of Thorns, said to have been worn by Jesus Christ before the crucifixion. Still, as French President Emmanual Macron said outside the cathedral once it was nearly extinguished, “The worst has been avoided, but the battle isn’t fully won yet . . .We will rebuild the cathedral together,” Macron said, adding that France planned to start international fundraising campaign to raise money for the renovations.
Thankfully, he may have a major head start on that campaign, thanks to billionaire François-Henri Pinault, who has already pledged more than 100 million euro to rebuild the cathedral. According to the AFP, Pinault said in a statement that he plans to provide the money through his family’s investment firm, Artemis, and that he hopes the money will help church officials “completely rebuild Notre Dame.”
Pinault own the French luxury group Kering, which oversees the luxury fashion brandsGucci and Saint Laurent, among others.
Years ago, Pinault talked with TechCrunch about his early love of computer science, and about having interned at Hewlett Packard as a software developer.
At the time, he also said he’s helped start Soft Computing, a company launched in Paris in 1984 by fellow students of Pinault, Eric Fischmeister and Gilles Venturi, who later took the company public and, in December of last year, sold a majority stake in the business to ad giant Publicis.
An active philanthropist, Pinault has seemingly steered around much of the startup world, though he has made very occasional investments, including writing an early check to the online shopping platform Fancy. and more recently providing funding to Muzik, an L.A.-based maker of so-called smart headphones that raised $70 million from investors last May.