Who is billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault? The man that could save Notre Dame

Francois-Henri Pinault
Francois-Henri Pinault has offered millions to French officials to rebuild the famous cathedral.[ Photo, Courtesy]
Francois-Henri Pinault is not just your typical celebrity husband. The billionaire, married to Salma Hayek, is his famed for his luxury fashion empire - which boats Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent on its books.

Now, he's pledged to donate a generous Sh10.2 billion (£90 million) to save Notre Dame, which was set ablaze during restoration works on Monday night - leaving the world devastated.

However, the French businessman has vowed to rebuild it - restoring the 860-year-old cathedral to its original glory.

But who is he and where do his billions come from?

Pinault is the son of a French business mogul, Francois-Henri Pinault, who founded now fashion empire Pinault Distribution in 1963 as a wood and building materials company. In 1999, under his son's leadership, the company bought stakes in the Gucci Group - amassing billions in the process.

In the past few decades, Pinault become one of the most influential figures in the luxury goods industry and a regular on the front row of catwalk shows.

Under his leadership the group sold off its retail assets including high street brand La Redoute and Printemps and merged with the Gucci Group, which oversees luxury brands including Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, to become one of the biggest players in high-end fashion.

He changed the name of the group from PPR to Kering in 2013 in reference to his Breton roots. Today, it has a net worth of over Sh1.5 trillion ($15.3 billion).

His family also own auction house Christie's, several vineyards, a French soccer club, a theatre in Paris and a luxury yacht and expedition company.

Outside of his empire, Pinault is husband to Hollywood star Salma Hayek. The couple wed in Paris in 2009 and have an 11-year-old daughter named Valentina.

Today, he's pledged to use funds from his family's investment firm, Groupe Artemis, to help restore Notre Dame Cathedral after it was devastated by fire.

In a statement obtained by French newspaper Le Figaro, he said: "My father (Francois Pinault) and myself have decided to release a sum of 100 million euro from our Artemis funds (the family holding company) to participate in the effort that will be necessary for the complete reconstruction of Notre Dame."

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