François Hollande’s Tax Measures : A Fatal Threat to Historical Heritage

Castle of Gevrey-Chambertin
Listed as an Historical Monument
Sold to a Chinese Investor
Photo : Johelm/Wikimedia Commons
License Creative Commons

The Art Tribune does not take political stands. We are here to denounce threats to historical heritage from both the left and the right. As such, we did not spare previous governments, eliciting accusations of "leftist" by one or two readers who seemed to forget our virulent criticism of a few Socialist mayors such as Bertrand Delanoë or Guy Delcourt...

Today we will probably be accused by some of being reactionary supporters of the right. We could care less what they call us. What does matter is that the measures being prepared, openly or not, by François Hollande’s government to be included in the Loi des finances for 2013 will have disastrous consequences for historical monuments and museums although this does not seem to trouble anyone for the moment.
In fact, François Hollande has decided, all on his own, to the surprise even of his advisers, to create a tax bracket of 75% for incomes over one million euros annually. This measure has been denounced by others as well, not just us, as being ideological (the President of France, and all of its citizens, had once stated "that he hated the rich") and confiscatory (especially when adding the CSG and the ISF [1] which brings it up to 100%).
We would therefore like to ask the President of the French Republic, at a time when government resources and initiatives for maintaining historical heritage continue to decrease, who is going to take over this responsibility. François Hollande, true, according to persons who knew him personally in the past, takes absolutely no interest in culture or heritage, perhaps even less, if possible, than Nicolas Sarkozy. Can he then begin to imagine the means needed to acquire, restore and maintain private châteaux and historical monuments which are an integral part of France’s wealth ? Many of the rich François Hollande hates, spend their money and much of their time to save, for the benefit of all, buildings which would have otherwise collapsed if they had waited for the State, and its incompetence, to step in.

We would also like to know how the Trésors Nationaux, the most important art works which cost several hundred thousands, at times even millions of euros, and which we know have for years been leaving French soil, are now going to find anyone willing to purchase them in France. No doubt the president, who rarely sets foot inside a museum, is unaware that their collections are, for the most part, due to the generosity of those rich people he hates so much. Furthermore, a year ago, he sided with the parliamentary group, made up of members from both the left and the right by the way, which attempted to include art works in the ISF. Such a measure had been refused even by François Mitterand, who instituted the ISF, knowing how devastating it would be for national heritage (we refer our readers to the articles we have already written on this subject) but whose application threatens to kick in on a regular basis since that time. We can be almost sure that the Minister of the Budget, Jérôme Cahuzac, who, according to Le Canard Enchainé, is said by Aurélie Filippetti "to have an ideological hate towards art and culture" is likely preparing a new offensive in this sense, as well as a very strong increase on capital gains taxes on art works which will also have very serious consequences, particularly if added to preceding measures.

In fact, we were in the process of writing this article when we learned that the Minister of the Budget had announced that tax shelters would now be capped at 10,000€ per household. Expenses made for historical monuments are not quoted but it seems sure that they are also included in this new measure. Four years ago we had denounced an initial attempt at doing this (Les monuments historiques ne sont pas des niches fiscales (see article in French) and, how surprising, Jérôme Cahuzac’s name popped up already, though we had no way of knowing obviously that he would one day become a minister alongside those we called "enemies of heritage", totally confirming Aurélie Filippetti’s own words. We now expect the Minister of Culture to speak out so as to have historical monuments exonerated from this cap.

We have probably forgotten to mention here other tax measures which will surely be added to this totally counter-productive and purely political form of harassment. The crisis is here to stay. Heritage cannot be outsourced. It is one of our economic resources exempt from the threat of globalization. Protecting and maintaining it is a must not only for moral and historical reasons. Countless studies have proved that it is an important source of economic development. If the State continues to lose interest in it, if the rich are no longer allowed to take its place, who is going to care for it ?
In one of his recent tweets [2], the excellent comedian Didier Porte ironically expressed his outrage at the scandal of hearing that the château (listed as a historical monument) of Gevrey-Chambertin had been purchased by a Chinese casino owner. He had encouraged people to vote for Melenchon (far left candidate for the French presidential elections last May 2012), who finds François Hollande’s tax program for the "rich" too soft ; he should be happy that the French can no longer afford (or wish) to buy their own heritage. In the future, perhaps only wealthy foreigners will be able to save it.

Version française

Didier Rykner, samedi 25 août 2012


11/09/12 : The 10,000 euro cap on tax shelters per household in fact will not concern historical monuments - which, as we wrote previously, should not be considered "shelters". As for the ISF (or Wealth tax) on art works, it seems the idea has fortunately been rejected once again by the government.


[1] The "Contribution sociale généralisée" taxes essentially capital gains and the "Impôt sur la fortune", wealth.

[2] "Un casinotier Chinois vient de racheter le château de Gevrey-Chambertin. Va peut-être falloir penser à prendre les armes, non ?" [A Chinese casino owner has just bought the Gevrey-Chambertin château. Maybe it’s time to get our guns out, right ?"], on 22 August at 9:05 am.

imprimer Print this article

Previous article in Editorial : Insulted Publicly by the Mayor of Lens

Next article in Editorial : No Funeral Wreaths