Gerard Depardieu, who stirred up controversy by becoming a tax exile last year, has thrown a big housewarming barbecue in Belgium.
The 64-year-old actor invited some 200 people, including his new neighbors, to celebrate in the grounds of the five-bedroomed chateau he bought in Nechin in December.
Gerard Depardieu bought the property after France’s Socialist government proposed a 75% tax rate on high incomes.
The tax hike was later blocked by France’s highest court.
Since it was proposed last year, Gerard Depardieu has also taken on Russian citizenship, in a move much criticized in his home country.
Gerard Depardieu has thrown a big housewarming barbecue in Belgium
Hailed as one of the finest actors of his generation for films that include Cyrano de Bergerac, Gerard Depardieu told reporters he was a “citizen of the world”.
“I have worked around the world but I settled in Nechin,” he said.
Saturday’s feast reportedly featured T-bone steaks and suckling pig.
Earlier in the day, Gerard Depardieu was made an honorary citizen of Estaimpuis municipality, which includes Nechin.
Daniel Senesael, the mayor of Estaimpuis, said: “When he came to set up house here, he always told me that he wanted to do something nice with the neighbors.
“He kept his word. He bought his house, the neighbors were invited… and so I think it’s great when you keep your promises… and you can mingle with Depardieu, what more do you want?”
Gerard Depardieu told France’s Figaro magazine on Friday that the tax controversy had been “a big misunderstanding” and that he loved France “as much as ever”.
Gerard Depardieu announces he is handing back his French passport after Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault criticized him for moving to Belgium to avoid taxes.
In a letter to a newspaper, Gerard Depardieu, 63, lambasted the French government for punishing “success, creation and talent”.
Last week Gerard Depardieu announced he was moving to the small Belgian town of Nechin just over the French border.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault described the decision as “shabby”.
Next year, the top rate of income tax in France is due to become 75% on earnings above 1m euros. It is currently 50% in Belgium.
“I am not asking to be approved of, but I could at least be respected. All of those who have left France have not been insulted as I have been,” Gerard Depardieu said in the weekly Le Journal du Dimanche.
Gerard Depardieu announces he is handing back his French passport after Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault criticized him for moving to Belgium to avoid taxes
Gerard Depardieu accused the government of Socialist President Francois Hollande of driving France’s most talented figures out of the country.
“I am leaving because you consider that success, creation, talent, anything different, must be punished,” he said.
Depardieu said that during his long career he had paid 145 million euros to the French taxman.
“At no time have I failed in my duties. The historic films in which I took part bear witness to my love of France and its history,” he said.
Referring to Jean-Marc Ayrault, Gerard Depardieu asked: “Who are you to judge me in this way?”
The prime minister had suggested that Gerard Depardieu’s move to the town of Nechin, just over the border from the French city of Lille, was unpatriotic at a time of cutbacks.
“I find this quite shabby. All that just to avoid paying tax,” he said on France 2 TV channel.
“Paying a tax is an act of solidarity, a patriotic act.”
Belgium is an attractive option for wealthy French people.
Three months ago France’s richest man, Bernard Arnault, announced plans to relocate to Belgium although he denied it was for tax reasons.