Is Hallyday using Gstaad to make a point?
Is Johnny Hallyday's welcome in Gstaad wearing thin? It certainly might do after February 27. On this day the Belgian parliment will vote on whether to grant Hallyday citizenship of Belgium. Why is this important? Because if he becomes a Belgian citizen, then he will have the right to set up residency in Monaco on a tax-free basis (French nationals are not permitted to live in Monaco without continuing to pay taxes to the French treasury). The talk at the dinner parties features a growing resentment towards the spotlight on Gstaad that Hallyday's much publicized tax minimization has caused, because there are many others who have been doing the same thing quietly for years. But they didn't announce it as a snub to a presidential candidate an election year. They just came, talking up the virtues of the landscape, the peace and quiet, and the quality of life.
Hallyday's very arrival was covered paparazzi-style by journalists from Le Matin, and his grandstanding on the issue of taxation for the wealthy has led to everything from cantonal political debate to camera crews from international news organizations filming on our Promenade and in our neighborhoods. So perhaps when choosing beween Gstaad and Monaco, the draws of Saanenland will turn out to be more influential than the effects on the pocketbook. Or perhaps he'll have his cake and eat it too, basing in Monaco and still enjoying his new chalet in Gstaad. Either way, everyone here in Saanenland would just like this story to go away.
UPDATE February 26: Hallyday is talking to Le Matin again, but this time he’s sounding more like a Gstaader. When asked whether his Belgian citizenship application was a pre-cursor to a move to Monaco, he said it was not, and that his Belgian citizenship application was being undertaken for personal family reasons (his father is Belgian). Apparently even before this whole fracas blew up in the press he assured his friend and French presidential candidate Nicholas Sarcozy that Switzerland was his final destination, and that Sarcozy was glad he was not basing in Monaco via Belgium. In the interview, Hallyday also says that his Gstaad chalet and its renovation was much more expensive that reported in the media, and that he loves Gstaad for its peace and quiet, the friendliness of the people, and the fact that you can ski so easily. So, there you have it…it’s taken him just 8 weeks to sound more like a Gstaader. It’s just too bad he didn’t start out that way.
UPDATE March 7: The Belgian citizenship commission has postponed its decision for six months. They say they want to further look into the basis for Hallyday's wish to become Belgian. We say they just don't want to make the decision till after the French elections when no-one will care about this any more.