The actor and former California governor travelled to Germany for a charity auction, but was held up upon arrival for failing to follow EU rules when it comes to valuable items over a certain price tag.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was temporarily detained at Munich Airport for failing to declare a valuable luxury watch he brought over from the US.
The actor and former California governor was detained by customs agents upon his arrival in Munich on Wednesday (17 January), and was delayed for three hours. An investigation for alleged tax evasion was launched because the watch was intended to be sold within the EU.
The 76-year-old’s non-profit, the Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative, told German press agency DPA that the actor planned to sell the watch, which has an image of Schwarzenegger as The Terminator on the back, at an auction in Kitzbuhel, Austria, about 89 km from Munich, to benefit climate initiatives.
According to local media, the watch is custom-made by luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet and is set to be auctioned for at least $50,000 (€46,000).
During the actor’s three-hour detention, a Munich customs spokesman told DPA: “If the goods remain in the EU, you have to pay tax and duty on them. That applies to everyone.”
Indeed, according to EU rules, anyone arriving with “cash or certain valuable items” over €10,000 must declare it.
The actor was allowed to take the watch with him, and BILD reported that he had to pay a fine of several thousands of euros to leave.
“He cooperated at all times, even though it was an incompetent investigation, a total comedy of errors, but one that would make a very funny police film,” a Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative spokesperson told DPA.
Indeed, in a more slapstick turn of events, three things went wrong when it came to paying the fine. The initial card machine did not work; the nearest bank was closed; and the ATM withdrawal limits were too low considering the fine amount. This meant that Schwarzenegger had to wait for a new card machine to be brought by customs officials, before leaving with the watch.
The Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative spokesperson stated: “We hope that Germany invests as much energy in reorganising its economy and making it more environmentally friendly as it does in levying customs duties on people’s property.”
Additional sources • BILD, DPA