Court demands more transparency in funding of Notre Dame reconstruction

Notre Dame before and after restoration.
Notre Dame before and after restoration. Image: Zuffe y Louis HG Wikimedia CC BY SA 4.0

A court in France has demanded that the organisation overseeing the rebuilding of the Notre Dame must be more transparent about its use of donations. The donations are to be used solely to pay for the construction work, but auditors found that the funds had also been used to pay for salaries and housing for the organisation itself.

The auditors found that the funds were used to pay the salaries of the organisation’s 40-person staff, to rent the building they are using, and to cover other costs such as communications. This was considered to be a misuse of funds by the court.

The court says the donations—which so far amount to €825 million ($967 million) in pledged funds—should be used exclusively to pay for the reconstruction of the cathedral, including training heritage apprentices on site. The staff of the organisation overseeing the construction must be paid salaries with public funds. This is in violation of the law passed on July 16, 2019 to regulate the restoration work and related expenses. Such scrutiny is important as many of the donors who pledged funds to the restoration project have not come through.

In light of the global health crisis—as of the start of the year, donors of some €640 million in funding still had not made good on their commitments -, this is a significant amount. (The bulk of initial funds reportedly came from $39 million in small donations by 46,000 people and 60 businesses.)

Despite the challenges, President Emmanuel Macron has promised to rebuild Notre Dame in time for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. The International Olympic Committee has donated €500,000 to help meet that goal.

To read about the traditional carpentry work for Notre Dame and the efforts of the Carpenters Without Borders to restore the interior woodwork, log on to Art-Net News.

View all our coverage on the fire and rebuilding of the Notre Dame in Paris.