Gérard Depardieu hasn't been making a ton of friends in recent years, and now it looks like he might have just offended the entire nation of France. After taking fire from for moving to Belgium in an apparent effort to pay lower taxes, Depardieu ran an open letter to French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in the Journal de Dimanche newspaper on Sunday. Last week, Ayrault called Depardieu's move across the border "pathetic" and unpatriotic. Well, Depardieu says he'll show him just how unpatriotic he can be. "I'm leaving because you think success, creation, talent and anything different should be punished," he wrote. "I am sending you back my passport and social security, which I have never used."
This is pretty significant, since Depardieu is arguably France's most famous actor. Aside from his Oscar nomination, his Golden Globe and all of the awards he's won at Cannes, Depardieu has been knighted in France twice -- once as Chevalier of the Ordre national de Merité and once as Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur, which is the highest honor that the country has. But it's hard to tell if the spat is more embarrassing for Ayrault or for Depardieu. After all, Ayrault kind of has a point. France passed its 2013 budget with a 75 percent tax on on those earning over 1 million euros per year just before Depardieu moved to Néchin, a small village in Belgium, in early December. Depardieu sort of danced around the real specifics of his decision to move and to move so quickly -- his 20,000 square foot Paris apartment just went on the market -- but he was quick to point out that many famous French people live outside the country. Plus, he says he's already paid some 145 million euros worth of taxes to the French government over the past 45 years.
And it looks like that might be all that the French government is ever going to get from Depardieu. It doesn't sound like Depardieu's going to back down. "We don't have the same homeland anymore," he told Ayrault in his letter. "I am a true European, a citizen of the world, as my father always taught me."
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