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Gerard Depardieu vows to give up his French passport and puts 40m Parisian mansion on the market in protest at huge tax hikesDepardieu, 63, is furious at French President Francois Hollande for several of his policies aimed at taking money away from the richHe wrote an open letter to French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault attacking the Government's 'punishment' of success
17:18 GMT, 16 December 2012
Legendary actor Gerard Depardieu is to give up his French passport in protest at huge tax hikes imposed by the country's Government.
Depardieu, 63, star of films including Green Card and Cyrano de Bergerac, is furious at French President Francois Hollande for several of his policies aimed at taking money away from the rich, including a top rate of income tax of 75 per cent.
The actor is now set to move to Belgium after putting his 40million mansion on Paris's Left Bank up for sale.
Leaving: French actor Gerard Depardieu has put his Paris mansion up for sale and will leave France in protest at tax hikes imposed by the government
In an open letter to prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault today, Mr Depardieu said: ‘I am leaving because you consider that success, creation, talent, anything different, must be punished.’
Mr Depardieu said he has paid 85 per cent of his income to the Government this year, and estimated that he had paid more than 130 million in total since he started work on leaving school aged 14.
New financial measures: French President Francois Hollande has imposed a top rate of income tax of 75 per cent
Mr Ayrault had earlier branded Mr Depardieu ‘pathetic’ and ‘unpatriotic’, but the actor wrote in an open letter in the Journal de Dimanche: ‘Who are you to judge me like this, Mr Ayrault I ask you, who are you
'Despite my excesses, my appetite and my love of life, I am a free man.
‘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.
‘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.’
The actor is not the first wealthy French resident to signal their intention to leave since Mr Hollande came to power back in May.
Bernard Arnault, chief executive of the luxury goods group LVMH and France’s richest man, is among those who have applied for Belgian residency, although the billionaire denies it is for tax reasons.
It came as an Ifop poll released in France at the weekend put Mr Hollande’s public approval rating at just 37 per cent, with Mr Ayrault on 35 per cent.
MailOnline reported last week how Depardieu had moved to a new 'tax exile' mansion just 800 yards from the French border in Belgium.
The actor's lavish home in the village of Nechin – on a street known as Millionaire's Row – is less than two minutes drive from the French town of Roubaix.