Actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has had an encounter with the German customs office upon his arrival at Munich Airport on 17 January. Contrary to what European import laws require, Schwarzenegger failed to declare a luxury wristwatch, which he was allegedly importing into Europe in order to sell during a charity auction. Because of this, the Austrian-born actor will face criminal tax proceedings.
When travelling from Los Angeles, in the United States, to Munich in, Germany, Arnold Schwarzenegger was in the possession of a luxury wristwatch which was made especially for him by Swiss luxury brand Audemars Piguet. When customs officers searched his luggage, they found the undeclared item, which led to an enquiry.
“Arnold was detained for three hours today at Munich airport for travelling with a watch he owns, that he might be auctioning at his charity auction in Kitzbühel [a ski resort in Austria]”, a source close to Schwarzenegger told CNN. “He cooperated at every step even though it was an incompetent shakedown, a total comedy of errors that would make a very funny cop movie.”
However, according to the customs press officer at Munich Airport, the actor hadn’t declared the watch, even though this is required by European law. “If the goods remain in the EU, you have to declare them through customs. This applies to everyone, whether their name is Schwarzenegger or Müller, Meier, Huber”, the spokesperson told German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
Because of the failure to declare the item, Schwarzenegger was charged 35,000€, including 4,000€ in taxes and 5,000€ in penalties. Even though the former Governor asked to pay his dues by credit card, German customs rules require half of the sum to be paid in cash and Schwarzenegger was thus accompanied to an ATM machine in order to retrieve the money before being released.
The watch was due to be sold at an auction one day after the actor was briefly held in Munich. The event, organised by the Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative, took place on Thursday, 18 January, and sold an array of goods and services, including a personal training sessions with Schwarzenegger himself. The Audemars Piguet watch in question was bought for 270,000€ by Klemens Hallmann, an old-time friend of the actor.
“The proceeds will support the Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative, which organises the annual Austrian World Summit climate conference in Vienna and backs climate projects globally,” the charity said on its website. “Schwarzenegger has been fighting pollution and climate change for over 20 years. His approach has always centred around the idea that we need ‹less talk, more action›.”