(AFP) French actor Gerard Depardieu, claiming he was “insulted” by critics for becoming a tax exile in Belgium, announced he was giving up his French passport.
The 63-year-old star said in an open letter to Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, published by the Journal du Dimanche on Sunday: “I don’t ask to be approved, but I could at least be respected!”
Earlier in the week the French prime minister described the Cyrano de Bergerac star’s decision to quit France as “pathetic.”
In his letter Depardieu responded: “All those who have left France have not been insulted as I have been.”
Depardieu said he had always paid his taxes and asked the prime minister: “Who are you to judge me in this way?”
He concluded: “I give you back my passport and my social security that I have never used. We no longer have the same country, I am a real European, a citizen of the world, as my father always taught me.”
Real estate agents had said Thursday that Depardieu was selling his historic Paris mansion, amid reports of a 50-million-euro price tag.
Depardieu has joined some of France’s wealthiest business figures in Belgium following moves by the Socialist government to tax annual incomes above one million euros ($1.3 million) at 75 percent, as well as hiking taxes on “grand fortunes” and inherited assets.
The tax measures would potentially hit Depardieu hard. The star can command up to two million euros per film.
He also has extensive business interests, including wine estates and three restaurants in the centre of Paris.