Arnold Schwarzenegger was briefly held by customs officers at Munich airport on Wednesday after allegedly failing to declare a €26,000 (£22,000) Audemars Piguet watch the Terminator star was planning to sell at an auction in aid of his climate crisis charity.
The Austrian-born actor and former governor of California, 76, was stopped at the airport for about three hours upon arrival from Los Angeles, according to the German tabloid Bild, which quoted customs officials.
Schwarzenegger was taken aside by officers who searched his luggage and found the watch, which the actor had allegedly not declared on his arrivals customs form.
A spokesperson for the main customs office in Munich said: “We have initiated criminal tax proceedings. The watch should have been registered because it is an import.”
Schwarzenegger said he tried to tell officials that the watch was being donated to his Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative, and is due to be auctioned off at an event in the Austrian ski resort of Kitzbühel on Thursday night. “This is the problem that Germany is suffering from. You can no longer see the forest for the trees,” he told Bild.
Officials charged Schwarzenegger €35,000, including €4,000 in tax and a €5,000 penalty, according to Bild. The actor is said to have offered to pay the charge with his credit card, but German customs rules require half of the charge to be paid in cash. Customs officials are said to have accompanied Schwarzenegger to a bank to withdraw cash, before he was allowed to continue his journey.
A customs spokesperson told Sueddeutsche Zeitung: “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 watch was made especially for Schwarzenegger by the luxury Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet. Other lots at Thursday’s auction, which Schwarzenegger will host, include “a training session with Arnold Schwarzenegger himself”, as well as artworks, signed exhibits, and “experiences from the worlds of sports and film”.
“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 says 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’.”
Credit: The Guardian