A year ago this month, long before COVID-19 took over our lives, the world was horrified by another major event.

While comparatively insignificant to the current deadly pandemic, the fire that gutted Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral on April 15 was all anyone could talk about.

And it motivated some of the world’s richest people to spring into action.

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As the fire tore through the 850-year-old landmark, destroying priceless artefacts and prompting mass outpourings of grief, donors reached deep into their pockets to help.

In days, about $1.6 billion had been pledged by France’s wealthiest individuals and corporations to restore the precious Roman Catholic cathedral.

Prominent donors included French billionaire Francois Pinault and son Francois-Henri Pinault, who promised more than €100 million ($180 million), businessman Bernard Arnault, who pledged €200 million ($360 million), and even American tech company Apple, which donated an unspecified amount.

Six months after the fire, only some of the money from wealthy donors had materialised. Early work to repair the building relied on only about $59 million in smaller donations from individuals and business – some as humble as one euro.

As the first anniversary of the fire approaches, where are Notre Dame’s millions now?

This week the Foundation Notre Dame, which is the largest of the four official charities overseeing repairs, told Business Insider all its donors’ pledges had come through.

“I can confirm that all the companies that committed to pay money for the restoration of the cathedral to the Notre Dame Foundation have either already paid it in full or have contracted to pay it as and when needs,” the foundation’s funding director Jean-Michel Mangeot said.

The three other charities raising money for Notre Dame’s repairs have not revealed the status of pledges they received.

While that is good news, the future of the fire-gutted cathedral is not clear.

The coronavirus pandemic has delayed vital repair work, and Business Insider reports 500 tonnes of melted metal lattice on the roof of weakened building could come down any minute.

Last month restoration workers were photographed undergoing work on the scaffolding on the roof.

The fire at Notre Dame on April 15 last year was declared a “terrible tragedy” by French President Emmanuel Macron.

The blaze engulfed the roof of the iconic cathedral and toppled its spire as thousands of people watched on in horror from the streets below just after 6.30pm Paris time.

More than 500 firefighters worked to finally extinguish the blaze after it burned for more than six hours, devouring the 12th century wooden frame and causing more than two thirds of the cathedral’s roof to collapse.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined by there is suspicion it may have been sparked by a cigarette or electrical issue.

Each year about 14 million people flocked to the soaring Gothic cathedral on the bank if the River Seine in the heart of Paris.

Mr Macron set a five-year deadline to rebuild the iconic landmark. Last year was the first time Notre Dame did not celebrate Christmas mass since 1803.

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