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As Taxes Rise, France’s Richest Man Eyes Belgium

LVMH Chief Executive Officer Bernard Arnault leaves the Matignon Hotel in Paris after a meeting with French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Sept. 5
LVMH Chief Executive Officer Bernard Arnault leaves the Matignon Hotel in Paris after a meeting with French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Sept. 5Photograph by Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images

France is the global capital of luxury and fashion. Belgium is famous for, uh, mussels, fries, and European bureaucrats. So it’s no surprise that luxury mogul Bernard Arnault has created an uproar by applying for Belgian citizenship—just as French President François Hollande is planning a big tax increase on the wealthy.

Arnault, who runs luxury giant LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and is France’s richest man—with an estimated net worth of $25.7 billion—on Sept. 9 confirmed news reports from Belgium that he applied for citizenship there earlier this month. He said he would retain his French citizenship, though, and promised to continue paying French taxes, including the planned new 75 percent rate on incomes of more than €1 million ($1.28 million). “Our country must be able to count on everyone’s contribution to face the deep economic crisis,” Arnault told Agence France-Presse.