An update on the restoration of Notre-Dame de Paris: “Barely has the fire been put out before some of the richest people in France rush to help rebuild it. From François-Henri Pinault, the ultimate owner of Gucci, comes €100m (£90m). Not to be outdone, the Arnault family at Louis Vuitton put up €200m. More of the wealthy join the bidding, as if a Damien Hirst is going under the hammer. Within just three days, France’s billionaire class has coughed up nearly €600m. Or so their press releases state. … Weeks go by, then months, and Notre Dame sees nothing from the billionaires. The promises of mid-April seem to have been forgotten by mid-June. ‘The big donors haven’t paid. Not a cent,’ a senior official at the cathedral tells journalists. … Meanwhile, the salaries of 150 workers on site have to be paid. The 300 or so tonnes of lead in the church roof pose a toxic threat that must be cleaned up before the rebuilding can happen. And pregnant women and children living nearby are undergoing blood tests for possible poisoning. But funding such dirty, unglamorous, essential work is not for the luxury-goods billionaires. As the Notre Dame official said last month, they don’t want their money ‘just to pay employees’ salaries’. Heaven forfend! Not when one could endow to future generations the Gucci Basilica or a Moët Hennessy gift shop”. Tax them into oblivion.
20 July 2019