World-recognized violinist Yuzuko Horigome had her $1.2 million violin seized by German customs as she was transferring through Frankfurt Airport last week. The Belgium-based professional musician was returning to Europe after a performance in Japan, and had her 1741 Guarnerius violin with her. Despite having made the trip several times before without problem, she is now being told that she must pay close to $500,000 in order to have her instrument returned.
Upon her arrival in Germany, Horigome did as she has always done and tried to pass the gate for travelers who had nothing to declare to customs. Unfortunately, this time officers stopped her and said she would be required to pay 190,000 euros (approx. 18.77 million yen/$236,700) in duty on the valuable and rare violin. Even more ridiculous, they added more fins on top, bringing the total owed to 380,000 euros (37.5 million yen/$474,000). All of this because she didn’t have any documentation for her purchase made in 1986.
Horigome explained that the violin is a valuable tool for her work, and that instruments like this one become extensions of one’s body. The musician has lived and worked in Europe for nearly three decades, and says she has never had this problem. While she has submitted documents to prove her ownership, Horigome says negotiations have been very difficult, and a spokesman for the German customs has only said that they might consider returning the violin only if it can be proven as necessary for her work.[via Gulf Today]