Two of the world’s wealthiest men, François Pinault and Bernard Arnault, are in the midst of a billionaire bidding war of sorts over who can claim the most credit for rebuilding Notre-Dame de Paris, an 850-year-old cathedral badly damaged by a fire yesterday (April 15, 2019).
With smoke still rising from the ruins, Pinault, the fourth-richest French person and majority shareholder of luxury house Kering, announced he would donate 100 million euros ($113 million) to help finance renovations.
Not long after, LVMH CEO Arnault, the richest person in Europe and fourth richest person in the world, stepped up with a pledge of 200 million euros ($226 million), a number exactly double that of Pinault’s commitment.
Keep in mind, if online estimates of their personal wealth are accurate (Pinault with $35.4 billion and Arnault with $91.3 billion), their donations are the equivalent of chump change, amounting to less than one percent of their net worth.
In addition to luxury fashion, the duo have also tried to outdo each other in the pricey world of collectible art world. In 2014, Arnault opened the Frank Gehry-designed Louis Vuitton Foundation on the outskirts of Paris to showcase his highly expensive art collection
At the same time, Pinault is in the midst of building the Collection Pinault-Paris, a multi-million-dollar contemporary art museum, noted as being in the center of Paris, designed by Tadao Ando.
Pinault and Arnault aren’t the only companies rushing to Notre Dame’s aid. The Bettencourt Meyers family, owners of L’Oreal, also pledged 100 million euros to restore the building.
In addition, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company would support a rebuild. On Twitter, he wrote, weighed in on Twitter yesterday and said, “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.”