Maria Montero

The billionaire François-Henri Pinault promised more than 100 million euros …

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was saved after fire broke out in the early hours of Monday night, but not before extensive damage was inflicted on the 856-year-old building, with much of its roof collapsed, along with its main body. needle.

The fire had burned for eight hours before firefighters could 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 the fire was close to being extinguished, “the worst has been averted, but the battle is not yet fully won.” Macron went on to say that France planned to start an international fundraising campaign to raise money for the renovations.

He may have a huge advantage in that campaign, thanks to billionaire François-Henri Pinault, who has already pledged more than 100 million euros to rebuild the cathedral. According to AFP, Pinault said in a statement that he plans to provide the money through his family’s investment company Artemis, financing he hopes will help church officials “completely rebuild Notre Dame.”

Pinault owns French luxury group Kering, which oversees luxury fashion brands Gucci and Saint Laurent, among others. Less well known is that he is a bit of a geek, or was once.

Pinault spoke to TechCrunch years ago about his early love of computing and his internship at Hewlett Packard as a software developer. At the time, he also said he helped start Soft Computing, a company that was founded in Paris in 1984 by fellow Pinault, Eric Fischmeister and Gilles Venturi. They later took the company public and last December sold a majority stake in the business to publicis giant Publicis.

Pinault, an active philanthropist, has apparently run much of the startup world, unlike some of the world’s richest individuals. His few investments in startups include an advance check from the online shopping platform Fancy. Most recently, it helped provide funding to Muzik, a LA-based maker of so-called smart headphones that raised $ 70 million from investors last May.