Actor Gérard Depardieu wants the whole world to know that he’s proud to be Russian—even though he was born in France. He also wants you to buy his new line of luxury watches, since soon the real Russians may not be able to afford them.
This was probably not the best week for formerly French actor Gérard Depardieu to bring out a line of pricey timepieces bearing the name “Proud to Be Russian.” The Russian economy is in freefall after suffering the worst week in recent history, but according to Depardieu, luxury is about “spiritual strength,” not the strength of your currency.
While Depardieu may claim to be proud to be a Russian, he’s actually one of the country’s newer citizens after fleeing France to avoid taxes. Maybe that’s why he can be so blasé about introducing a collection of watches selling for 15,000 Swiss francs apiece while the value of Russia’s ruble keeps dropping.
The “Proud to Be a Russian” collection was designed by Custos, a maker of fine Swiss watches selling for upwards of $10,000. The face of the watch features a Russian double-headed eagle trimmed in gold.
When quizzed by reporters about whether this might be an inopportune time to expect Russians dealing with economic turmoil to spend 15,000 francs on a watch, Depardieu scoffed. “Luxury doesn’t depend on the ruble, it depends on the spiritual strength of Russians and I think our spiritual strength will win out and everything will be fine, as long as we are left in peace.”
Depardieu has been a very open supporter of Russian president Vladimir Putin, even presenting the world leader with his own Russian passport in 2013. The actor made light of his new home’s financial crisis, claiming the problems started “after a number of American banks went bankrupt.” He has also spoken out against western sanctions against Russia.
This is probably not the way to win friends—or sell watches—in the U.S., where the timepieces will retail for $20,000 to $30,000. Also not likely to help sales are the commercials Depardieu has made for the watch collection in which he appears to be heavily intoxicated.
This isn’t much of a surprise, since the 65-year-old actor has admitted to drinking as many as 14 bottles of wine per day and earlier this month delivered a speech at an event commemorating WWI while “scandalously drunk,” as described by the press.
Custos is a fairly new Swiss watch brand and interestingly, there is no mention of the Depardieu model on its Facebook page. There is a photo announcing the press event for the collection on the Custos webpage but no specs. Maybe that means that we won’t be seeing the “Proud to Be Russian” line in time for holiday shopping this year.