Depardieu 'Shrugged'

Tyler Durden's picture

Via Emmanuel Martin, Executive Director of
the Institute for Economic Studies-Europe ( and editor of,

Last week the big story in French headlines has been the tax exile of Gerard Depardieu in Nechin, Belgium, half a mile from the French border. French PM Jean-Marc Ayrault called the French movie star’s behavior “minable” (pathetic). A socialist MP, Yann Galut, even suggested that M. Depardieu loses his French nationality. In an open letter in the Journal Du Dimanche on December 16, Depardieu, who famously starred as Obélix, the big Gallic fellow of Astérix, carrying menhirs on his back – and sometimes throwing them at the Romans, replies. With a taste of Ayn Rand’s famous character John Galt. Gerard shrugged.

Depardieu begins by saying that what is pathetic is to call his behavior pathetic. Although he does not want to justify the many reasons of his choice, he makes it clear that he leaves after paying 85% of taxes on his income this year and € 145 million through his entire life; He leaves because the French PM thinks that “success, creation and talent, in fact difference, must be punished”. He then reminds Jean-Marc Ayrault that he set up companies that employ 80 people. Depardieu says he is ready to give up his French passport and his “Social Security” (the French public health care system, which he claims he never used).

This letter is important.

First because thanks to a top actor, the categories of incentives and unintended (though highly expectable) consequences will probably enter the “consciousness area” of a statist French political class (right and left alike). Imposing a 75% income tax above €1 million does have consequences on the incentives of the rich and creative people. Mr Hollande and his team might call it “just” because, as the French President once famously said, he doesn’t “like the rich”, the fact is that one does not promote economic progress by hitting the creative and successful minds. Those are obsolete collectivist policies based on envy and scapegoating: they are only effective at creating division and killing the goose with the golden egg, that is, generate more poverty. Not exactly “just” in the end.

Second because Depardieu stresses the fact that he is a European, a “citizen of the World”, and remains a “free man”. He is effectively saying that thanks to globalization we are free to escape a government’s crushing fist. Institutional competition, and especially tax competition is an essential feature of our liberty: it is crucial that people can “vote with their feet”. Of course European politicians, French ones especially, are too eager to suppress this liberty – again in the name of justice, harmonization, equality, solidarity and what have you. What that story also tells us is that should Europe become a “giant France”, it would be doomed. Unfortunately, recent efforts in the direction of more EU centralization do not carry optimism.

Now, to be completely fair on that “Depardieu shrugging”, the tiny issue is that state subsidies to the film industry in France probably indirectly helped the man to become famous and rich, even if overall he probably paid a lot more that he received, and in the end owed much to his personal talent. Not a pure John Galt then. But a good start.



Open Letter to French PM Jean-Marc Ayrault (from Gerard Depardieu):

You say "pathetic"? As it is pathetic.


I was born in 1948, I started working at the age of 14 years as a printer, then as a warehouseman as dramatic artist. I always paid my taxes regardless of the rate under all governments.


At no time, I have failed in my duties. Historical films I participated reflect my love of France and its history.


Most illustrious characters that were expatriates me or left the country.


I unfortunately have nothing more to do here, but I continue to love the French public and with whom I shared so many emotions, I'm leaving because you consider that success, creativity, talent, actually The difference must be punished.


I do not ask to be approved, I could at least be respected.


All those who left France were not insulted as I am.


I do not have to justify the reasons for my choice, which are numerous and intimate.


I leave after paying, in 2012, 85% tax on my income. But I keep in mind that France was beautiful and I hope will remain.


I give you my passport and Social Security, which I've never used. We no longer the same country, I'm a true European, a citizen of the world, as my father has always taught.


I find pathetic the hard justice against my son William judged by judges who condemned any kid to three years in prison for two grams of heroin, when so many others escaped prison for acts otherwise more serious.


I do not blame all those cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, or too much alcohol or those who sleep on their scooter: I'm one of them as your expensive media like both the repeat.


I never killed anybody, I do not think unworthy, I paid 145 million tax in forty-five years, I have 80 people working in companies that were created for them and which are managed by them.


I am not to complain or to brag, but I refuse the word "pathetic".


Who are you to judge me so I ask you Mr. Ayrault, Prime Minister Mr. Holland, I ask you, who are you? Despite my excesses, my appetite and my love life, I am a free being, sir, and I'll be polite.


Gérard Depardieu

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Ahmeexnal's picture

Tell that to german millionaire Fabian Thylmann, who was arrested in Belgium on orders of Merkel's Gestapo. His crime: not paying "taxes" to the vierte reich.

Expect Depardieu to receive the exact same treatment by the Vichy regime.

Yen Cross's picture

Keep kicking " caveman ass".

SafelyGraze's picture

when the tax rate is 90%, that just motivates people to work ever harder in order to retain that 10%. 


and also .. endeavor to persevere! 

macholatte's picture



The unspoken words of the taxman...... deductions, deductions, deductions.


Before Regan there were deductions that caused people to "invest" because of tax implications.  There was an entire wall St industry dedicated to it. It will happen again or the dreams of the socialists will vanish like the people they try to tax.

Al Gorerhythm's picture

Taxes are for naught. It's not as if they couldn't just print the shit as they do in the States. JPM said that the raft of government spending programs is completely covered by fed purchase of their debt. Fuck, those ass hat government drones don't even have to turn up for work and they could still spend us into misery and get paid. It's us v them now.

piliage's picture

Well...belgium's individual tax rates on wages are insanely high (close to 62% when all the local taxes are figured in for the employer). What this means is a working person, who is paid 26 euros an hour on the budget of the employer, will only see about 11 or 12. Then every year there is an 'extra' month (summer vacation) so you end up paying 13 months of salary and yet higher marginal taxes. It's odd to say the least.


Belgium is a VERY hypocritical place, so whilst they tax the hell out of wages on working people who increasingly have less and less disposable income as the economy stagnates, corporate taxes are only around 30%, and there are no capital gains taxes. Obviously, the wealthy do very well in Belgium.

So, I assume Depardieu is incorporated as an independent company, and takes some of his wages in 'shares' of the ownership of the production. I'm sure he can cut back his tax rate quite a bit in Belgium.

What is being missed in all the talk of France's 75% wealth tax, is the new law in France raising capital gains and dividends taxes to 60%. That is what is driving all of these people to leave France. Holland is, frankly, a moron.


Rustysilver's picture

The rich are always different.  Their money gives them choices.

CPL's picture

Because they were smart enough to recognize opportunity.

Banjo's picture

They are not always smart, often times there is a healthy dose of luck. I have a family member that took no risk stayed in the one (very big) company and got 1.4 million dollars as a bonus (ended up in he executive ranks) This was then used to buy investments including business the rest as they say is history.

At least thats once success story in my family others are doing great very successful compared to the articles you see with average American having 50K saved in 401K however the family member that got the share options is totally blitzing it compared to the rest and quite honestly it's nothing about meritocracy, risk or opportunity it's just one path taken on the road.

Small story of perhaps getting to the top 2%. I would rank myself somewhere in the top 10%.

sessinpo's picture

Regardless of how one got their money, if done legally, what business is it of yours or mine? Jealousy creeps up in sidious ways.

To much attention is focused on the wealthy. They are not the problem. The best way I know that is because it's what the MSM is selling you.

Heck, even ZH is selling banner advertisements that have this mentallity.




LawsofPhysics's picture

That's why the banks and financial sector have made corruption and theft legal.  No recourse, click a button, add another trillion, pay me my bonus.

When evaluating people I tend to look a bit closer at the true value of their labor.  How about letting the bad ideas and bad management fail for a change?  Novel concept I know, but then compensation might actually return to people who are actually worth a shit.

ball-and-chain's picture

That filthy French ardvark has to be the worst actor on the planet.

Plus his English sucks.

Nevertheless, I don't blame the guy.

70 percent is unreal.


Johnny G.'s picture

re: his English sucks

He writes in French you idiot.  It's the translator/translation that sucks.

Fish Gone Bad's picture

Now that made me laugh.  +1

Banjo's picture

Correct and if we legally change the system to re-distribute wealth, we as in our community that works for me and millions of others we just have to use the democratic process and make sure it's all legal.

I'm sure you across the principles of Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan where we as a society give up freedoms and rights for the greater good all legally of course. The ironic discourse in American politics seems to view their freedom's as unlimited the reality is far more nuianced.

The pendilum has swung towards a minority all legally of course and I believe it will swing back all legally.



LawsofPhysics's picture

"I believe it will swing back all legally."


History is not on your side.  Once moral hazard has been left unchecked for a generation and there are no longer any real consequences for bad behavior it becomes impossible to put pandora back in the box without a sufficient sacrafice.  We could start prosecuting fraud at all levels of society and start holding people accountable, but then those in power would have to indict themselves.  None of this is really about money, it's about power and control.  Same as it ever was.

Jon Bong Jovi's picture

Any schmuck can make it, the real test is keeping it.

rehypothecator's picture

Money turns problems into costs.

chubbar's picture

The gov't parasites aren't going to like that reply. I predict a hot tub accident or sudden heart attack momentarily.

fonzannoon's picture

What's his tax rate in Belgium? 70%?

I am Jobe's picture

Close to 58%. Been there. Waiting for Amerika to follow the footsteps , won't be long.

fonzannoon's picture

You sure?  I have a buddy working there (American). He got married to a Belgium chick and has been there for several years. He got called in this year and the Belgium gov't told him he was now a Belgium tax payer. His tax rate is 56% and he don't make Depardoodie money.

zilverreiger's picture

2012 income tax



Bracket 5 (highest):    > € 34.330        50 %




Bracket 4 (highest)  > € 56.492       52 %

(Capital gains fixed 1.2% over principal)

zilverreiger's picture

there may be extra special taxes when you earn millions but I dont have info on that rigth away

Dr Benway's picture

Yes, just because your entire industry is state subsidized and under heavy protectionism doesn't mean you can't hypocritically denounce taxes after you made it.

I am Jobe's picture

Unlike the Trailer Trash in the USSA they are much more polite.

Matt's picture

Did he denounce the taxes at all? He did not go into details for why he left. He simply mentioned that he has paid an amount of taxes over his life, has created jobs for 80 other people directly, and paid 85% income tax last year.

It is not hypocrisy to say that some tax is ok, but too much tax is too much. Which he did not actually say.

Dr Benway's picture

He was made and paid by a socialist system, then denounces socialism after he makes it, and its somehow not hypocrisy? Ok.

Look, you libertards do this quite a bit, don't you? You admit that the entire system is corrupt and banksterized, yet somehow rich people in this system are 'producers' and superheroes and not just succesful leeches. Lol make ur mind up.

Oldwood's picture

This is the mind of the left. The only honorable conservative is one who refuses to participate in the corrupt economy, instead demanding to live in poverty. We can be taxed our entire life, resisting and resenting it, but out of ideological thinking, we should refuse anything from the social system and demand to starve, regardless of how much we have been forced to contribute. And of course, if someone is successful, it is not due to their work or talents, but a gift from the State that they should be eternally thankful for and to. Afterall, they didn't build it...but oh, I forgot, that's not what Obama meant when he said that right? But you did.

MayIMommaDogFace2theBananaPatch's picture

very nicely put...well done.

Jreb's picture

Your last name wouldn't be Obama would it?

We do not choose where we are born. Many of us are not rich. Many of us are hard working middle classed people who are watching our wealth and therefor our lives being squandered by the banks and their political henchmen. I have a nasty degenerative bone disease (I have never missed a day of work because of it) and I have no choice but to accept the help of our socialist medical system - or else I would suffer the consequences and my business would suffer - possibly fail. A lack of choice - even in instances where state "help" appears beneficial does not represent hypocricy. It represents a form of slavery.


A rat in a cage that builds a beautiful nest for itself but is fed and watered by its owner is not a hypocrit. It labours within the boundaries provided by its poltical master - its owner - at the point of a gun.


Good Dr. - one of these days the rats will tire of the cage.


Good for Mr. D. I hope many others follow his lead.

Matt's picture

Please show a citation where he denounces socialism.

The only complaint I see is where he states he feels that putting his son in jail for years for having a few grams of a controlled substance is excessive.

The rest of it, he says he will not go into personal details, he makes statements about what he has paid in taxes and what he has done for his country, he highlights that many other rich people have moved to Belgium but only he was singled out, and he feels outraged that his free choice is being called "pathetic".

Please work on your reading comprehension, cut back on the personal attacks, and maybe the quality of your writing will improve.

Muppet Pimp's picture

I paid 145 million tax in forty-five years


Look at the greedy rich man!  Get him!!

and for the all the spectators/s

p.s. I am a man of very limited means but I agree with Gerard Depardieu

samcontrol's picture

he should of left France for south america decades ago like i did.

BKbroiler's picture

85% is outrageous.  We should all agree with him.  39%? ... not so much.

Freddie's picture

Legalize pot and tax the producers 85%.  LOL!  The dopers in Nor Cal were complaining to the LA Times that competition is lowering dope prices and they cannot take nice vacations.  Their "organic" pot can no longer command premium prices due to competition.   It was hilarious.  I bet these dopers paid zero tax too.

George Harrison wrote Taxman because they were in something like a 90+% tax bracket in the UK (Labour Party) as Brian Epstein was also ripping them off. 

Oldwood's picture

Feel free to contribute what ever you think is fair. Its a free country afterall, right?

machineh's picture

Need a link to the original French version ... this is a weak translation.

Hulk's picture

Increasing tax rates, decreasing revenues. The Laffer curve's a mathematical bitch that the politicos just don't get, until it rears its ugly head on the bottom line...

Chuck Walla's picture

The Laffer curve's a mathematical bitch that the politicos just don't get,

They get it. This is about power, dependency and the power in perpetuity that can accrue to the immoral, soulless Kenyan.


sessinpo's picture

Complete that thought and realize it is not just the Kenyan or the left that want dependency.

Oldwood's picture

I don't believe most kings and autocrats ever worried about bestowing benefits on anyone who could not reciprocate. Its about power and the control of wealth, even if they don't have it all in their immediate grasp, if they can control how the remaining wealth is used, that is almost better. Its always good to have someone to blame for society's ills. Bankers, anyone?