France’s wealthiest man pledges to sue over front-page ‘rich idiot’ headline
France’s richest man said Monday he would sue a newspaper over its front-page headline — “Get lost, you rich idiot!” — which came in response to news he has applied for Belgian nationality.
The headline in the left-wing Liberation daily was aimed at Bernard Arnault, boss of the luxury conglomerate LVMH, who insists his move is not aimed at avoiding new taxes about to be imposed by France’s new Socialist government.
“Bernard Arnault has no other choice, given the extreme vulgarity and the violence of the headline… but to sue Liberation,” he said in a statement that said he was suing for libel.
The headline, superimposed on a photo of the smiling LVMH boss carrying a red suitcase, is a play on a comment by ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, who publicly muttered “Casse-toi, pov’ con” (“Get lost, you poor idiot”) at a man who refused to shake his hand.
The words became a taunt used by Sarkozy’s left-wing critics.
Arnault, the world’s fourth-richest man whose fortune Forbes magazine estimates at $41 billion, was close to Sarkozy.
He said Sunday he was not becoming a tax exile, despite seeking Belgian nationality as France moves to impose a 75-percent tax on top earners.
“I am and will remain a tax resident in France and in this regard I will, like all French people, fulfil my fiscal obligations,” he told AFP.