national

Japanese violinist to get her $1.2 mil Guarnerius back from German customs

26 Comments

German customs officials said Saturday that a $1.2 million violin seized from a Japanese professional musician over unpaid duty will be returned to her. Belgium-based Yuzuko Horigome will not have to pay any tariffs or penalties, customs officials said.

On Aug 16, Belgium-based Yuzuko Horigome was transiting through Frankfurt Airport after performing in Japan when her violin was confiscated. When she tried to walk through the green gate for travelers arriving in the EU with nothing to declare, customs officers stopped her and said she needed to pay 190,000 euros in duty on her 1741 Guarnerius violin.

On top of this were fines, taking the total cost to 380,000 euros.

Customs confiscated the valuable fiddle because she could not provide the documents for her 1986 purchase. Guarnerius violins are considered among the world's best, ranked alongside those made by Stradivarius and Amati.

Horigome, 54, who has worked in Europe for three decades, has since submitted documents to prove her ownership of the violin. She bought the violin in Japan in 1986.

Horigome plays in cities around the world with top conductors and orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the Berliner Philharmoniker.

© Japan Today/AFP

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

26 Comments
Login to comment

On top of this were fines, taking the total cost to 380,000 euros.

A complete nonsensical action.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Just Google "yuzuko horigome" and click on images, and you can see dozens of pictures of her and the famous violin. I've traveled all over with laptop computers (my tool in trade) and have never been asked for a receipt and I am not an EU resident, like Horigome san. What were they thinking? Not thinking?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Totally bizzare incident!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

TomDC:

" and have never been asked for a receipt and I am not an EU resident, like Horigome san "

I thought the point is precisely that she IS a EU resident. She bought that thing and did not pay the required import taxes when she brought it into the EU. That is different from you transiting through with your laptop.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

And so she shouldn't have too! This world is full of idiots who make me worry about humanity.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

all governments are desperate for money. unreasonable confiscations like this, penalties for minor infractions, etc. will on increase as governments squeeze people for money to pay for their debt...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

There was an article about this in some paper or other - The Private Eye I think - they've been trying it on with a lot of musicians, confiscating, charging loads, changing rules regarding carry-on. It's good that pressure has been put on them to stop dicking around.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Shame on Germany. They got a lot of bad press around their world for their ineptitude. Hope their Customs Agents and Supervisors are shunted to Siberia for the coming winter!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

" all governments are desperate for money. unreasonable confiscations like this, penalties for minor infractions, etc. will on increase as governments squeeze people for money to pay for their debt..."

Leviathan has many names and manifestations. This time the guise was German Customs.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Most likely the PRC will claim that it was theirs and will start rioting against the Japanese, again.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

If I were her I'd have it carefully checked by an expert to check it is the original, and there has been no damage. If there was so much as a scratch I'd be sueing the German customs for the cost of repairs... plus a couple of hundred thousand for malicious damage to property.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Perhaps musicians from around the world could strike back by boycotting performances in Germany for a year, while raising awareness of the reason.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If there was so much as a scratch I'd be suing the German customs for the cost of repairs... plus a couple of hundred thousand for malicious damage to property.

Good luck with that! Thankfully, Europe isn't America, and you'd be laughed out of court.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Totally ridiculous , so famous as a musician. What is amazing is that customs took so long to give it back.

Giving it back and issuing a apology for not being bright enough to check her status as a musician would have saved face ....but nope she still had to provide proof on her instrument ( which is technically used for her work )

I don't think any other country would have pulled such a stunt.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Glad to see common sense finally prevailed. I don't think import taxes were designed to punish people for taking their musical instruments with them abroad.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Good. I'm glad German customs officials finally regained some degree of sanity in this. The entire thing was stupid from the start.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Guess I will never be transiting through Frankfurt after reading this.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

lucabrasiSep. 23, 2012 - 09:51PM JST Good luck with that! Thankfully, Europe isn't America, and you'd be laughed out of court.

Clearly you haven't lived in Europe recently. My grandfather's farm was broken into. The thief cut himself on the window he broke to gain entry, and successfully sued my grandfather. Europe's legal system has become ridiculous since the EU.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Frungy

I stand corrected. Apologies.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lawful STUPID, this is also starting to happen all over the world. In America they took my Japanese cat food at customs. They could not read the ingredients because they were in Japanese. A school in Oklahoma would not give the valedictorian her diploma because she used the word hell in her speech. Another school suspended a boy for "weapons" because he made a pistol with his hand. Stupid knows no bounds!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I hope the custom officials who did this were fired.

I think this was very disrespectful. Glad it was fixed but it should never have happened.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@ WilliB

I thought the point is precisely that she IS a EU resident. She bought that thing and did not pay the required import taxes when she brought it into the EU. That is different from you transiting through with your laptop

Nonsense. She's not ordinarily resident or domiciled there. She was charged because she didn't carry a receipt for the thing which was bought 6 years previously and had been through EU customes on countless occasions (not because of where she currently lives). We can't all carry receipts for every purchase we ever made as we travel around the world. Your watch, shaver, camera, laptop, headphones, pen, shoes - you name it - do you carry a receipt for them all everywhere you go?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

move along now.. nothing to see here. just common human error. happens anywhere!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is probably an attempt to regulate the trafficking of rare merchandise. Someone travelling from country to country with a Stradivarius would probably also be expected to prove that they have properly paid for it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

ds: all governments are desperate for money. unreasonable confiscations like this, penalties for minor infractions, etc. will on increase as governments squeeze people for money to pay for their debt...

Yep. Do you have photoradar in Japan? If not, hang on to your wallets when it arrives.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites