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This American Billionaire Is Chipping in to Help Rebuild Notre Dame

KKR’s Henry Kravis is among the billionaires supporting efforts to rebuild the Paris cathedral ravaged by flames during Holy Week.

KKR & Co. cofounder Henry Kravis and his wife are contributing $10 million to help finance the reconstruction of Notre-Dame Cathedral after a fire devastated the renowned church that has drawn crowds for centuries.

Kravis, a billionaire who co-runs private equity firm KKR, and his wife Marie-Josée are saddened — alongside people in France and the rest of the world — over the damage to the cathedral in Paris, according to a statement Tuesday from the New York-based firm. Flames erupted April 15 at Notre Dame, taking down its spire and destroying a significant portion of the historic building before firefighters extinguished them in an overnight battle.

French billionaires have already contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to the rebuilding of Notre Dame, whose construction began in 1163. Bernard Arnault and the luxury-goods company he runs, LVMH Group, announced Tuesday they have donated €200 million ($226 million), while the AFP reported April 15 that Francois-Henri Pinault, the chief executive officer of luxury group Kering, has pledged €100 million.

The fast outpouring of support for the rebuilding of Notre Dame has included U.S. companies beyond KKR and the asset management industry. Apple will donate to help restore Notre Dame’s “precious heritage for future generations,” the tech giant’s CEO Tim Cook said in a tweet Tuesday.

“We are heartbroken for the French people and those around the world for whom Notre Dame is a symbol of hope,” Cook said in the same tweet.

The Crown of Thorns, the sacred relic said to have been worn by Jesus at the time of his crucifixion, was rescued from the Catholic cathedral during the fire, according to an Associated Press report from Paris Tuesday. Notre Dame’s 18th-century organ and some works of art were also saved, the AP said.

The cathedral’s twin medieval bell towers still stand as investigators begin the work of determining what set off the blaze, which ravaged Notre Dame during the Holy Week leading up to Easter. French authorities are considering the fire, which broke out on the roof where renovations were being done, an accident, according to the AP.

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