German Customs Strikes Again, this time they want 1.5 million!!!


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Pianist, Christian Zimerman had problems in the United States in recent years. He travels with his own Steinway piano, which he has altered himself. But shortly after 9/11, the instrument was confiscated at JFK Airport when he landed in New York to give a recital at Carnegie Hall. Thinking the glue in the piano smelled funny, the TSA decided to take no chances and destroyed the instrument!

What gives them the right to do this?

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Pianist, Christian Zimerman had problems in the United States in recent years. He travels with his own Steinway piano, which he has altered himself. But shortly after 9/11, the instrument was confiscated at JFK Airport when he landed in New York to give a recital at Carnegie Hall. Thinking the glue in the piano smelled funny, the TSA decided to take no chances and destroyed the instrument!

What gives them the right to do this?

This story was already debunked when we were discussing the Horigome case. TSA (the agency) did not exist at the time when this event reportedly occurred shortly after 9/11.

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In this new case concerning 26 year old Yuki Manuela Janke the instrument was taken away even after Janke showed her loan contract with the foundation, proof of insurance on the on the instrument, the violin's photograph, and proof that the foundation had legally imported the instrument to Japan.

This is just legalized robbery!!

And abuse of power!!

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Again, we have too few details to form a judgement, but a german resident bringing something that had been imported into Japan, into the EU would be liable for Input VAT. For this sort of thing they have “carnetsâ€.

Violinists are by no means the only profession traveling the world with expensive stuff. Do you think Michael Schumacher doesn’t have to do the customs rigmarole with his car?

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What is going on with these Europeans? She has to pay because she "MIGHT" sell the instrument that she doesn't even own? What kind of reasoning is this?

It has been suggested in another forum that this may be behind the customs' office heavy handed stance:

"Dietmar Machold, jet-setting violin dealer, accused in a case of fakes and fraud"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/dietmar-machold-jet-setting-violin-dealer-accused-in-a-case-of-fakes-and-fraud/2012/09/13/be7d80fc-fb85-11e1-8adc-499661afe377_story.html

This guy not only cheated his clients, but also the tax and customs office! This case alerted authorities about the fact that rare violins represent huge values that may be easily transfered across borders, evading scrutiny. A customs' officer isn't an expert, able to tell the original from a forgery, after all. This opens the door for all kinds of shenanigans, including money laundering. And if such a multi-million-dollar instrument is owned by an entity allegedly making profits with racing (hey, ever heard of a racing team that is profitable???), this has to ring all alarm bells. The uncompromising attitude of German customs may look excessive, but it's perfectly legal (customs may demand a bond if you travel with valuable goods!) and based on real experiences.

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It has been suggested in another forum that this may be behind the customs' office heavy handed stance:

"Dietmar Machold, jet-setting violin dealer, accused in a case of fakes and fraud"

http://www.washingto...e377_story.html

Ah, yes, perhaps that explains it. The heat's on. But I notice that of the three cases of confiscated violins that we have discussed, German customs is 0 for 3, but the travelers have nevertheless incurred considerable expense.

A customs' officer isn't an expert, able to tell the original from a forgery, after all.

Yes, I have to assume that they would treat me and my instruments the same. Unlike the unfortunate international artists, I doubt if I would ever see my instrument again. For most of us, I think this makes international travel with an instrument extremely risky. And keep in mind that even if you are not scheduled to fly through Germany, you may get rerouted.

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"Dietmar Machold, jet-setting violin dealer, accused in a case of fakes and fraud"

This guy not only cheated his clients, but also the tax and customs office!

(hey, ever heard of a racing team that is profitable

Dietmar, when crossing borders´with violins, naturaly had all the correct carnets. In the 17 page long charge list against him, there is no mention whatssoever of any customs transgressions. He has been sitting is prison since the beginning of 2011 for embezzeling other peoples violins, and I expect him to stay there for a good long time.

What on earth does it matter if a racing team is profitable or not re. customs? Dietmar doesn't seem to have been very profitable either with his couple of hunderd million debts, perhaps they should give him some back?

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I have some ideas. I don't think this is related at all to the Machold case. Point blank I think its probably the identical same customs official who is overzealous with instruments who might fancy holding on to precious instruments in the back room for a bit as toys.

I digress past those points, because even myself Ive had some problems with customs with my own instruments (one time even had a customs official who couldn't figure out how to get the instrument out of the suspension case and nearly broke the neck trying to pull it out)

Here are my ideas - i'm a dreamer by nature. - I kicked back with a cup of coffee for a bit to give my hands a rest from the fingerplanes and scribbled out some things in the whiteboard behind me.

What if Tarisio and Cozio pulled off an International Registry of Instruments going across borders - Like a travel site. regardless of maker - where you have photos of front, back and sides, scroll. Can be kept private. Includes sales dates, taxes paid, Carnets, Certificates - exct - higher end stuff like cozio if they are finer instruments.

You would see the ownership and date paid and taxes - the current musician, date the musician received the instrument, where they are traveling, what concert they are going to preform, and contact info of the owner of the instrument - and optional contact info of the logistics director of the artist management or concert manager... exct... you get the idea behind that.

Information could be kept private as needed, but each orchestra as they travel internationally whether highschool, to world class musician, could register.

Here is where it could become cool. - You could order a hardcopy passport that could be made of the instrument for a fee -

Now I know that you can register certain objects in the Interpol database if they are stolen - but I am curious about instruments that are not stolen - there is some unknown things there - Interpol is always checked at each border crossing every time you go through customs.

Most of the international databases they look at in border checkpoints are pretty similar with the exception of languages they use - It would be some hurdles to jump through, and some agencies to talk to - And i read an article that the Nippon Music Foundation is asking for passports for instruments already.

So comeon - I think this could happen if everyone put their heads together and really did this the right way.. Pull you guys together with the Nippon Music Foundation, Chi-Mei Foundation, Stradivari Society, Canada Council for the Arts, Österreichische Nationalbank, and some of the others... I think this could really happen.

There is quite a few hurdles in all this, there has been talks about stuff like this in the past. No one has really pulled it off. I think we have the technology now and international savvy worldwide to make it happen and do it the right way.

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I have some ideas. I don't think this is related at all to the Machold case. Point blank I think its probably the identical same customs official who is overzealous with instruments who might fancy holding on to precious instruments in the back room for a bit as toys.

This is foundless speculation of course. The rest already exists, albeit without elivating the likes of Tarisio etc. to an executive level (heaven forbid). One should recongnise and accept that we are all subjects of this planet, and that there are laws and regulations that apply to all of us. If one complies, one has zero bother. If one has the attitude that one is above all of that, one will occasionaly hit the buffers – full stop (period in the US)

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Right it is just speculation. Same airport in Frankfurt Germany however. But outside that I think it would be cool if we could get international passports for instruments.

--- EDIT - i don't think it would be elevating them to an executive level but offering a service that could help with carnets, document services for instruments, exct... but be able to provide a database internationally.

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I think you miss the point. I doesn’t concern who owns the instrument, even if it were stolen, but if they are being imported or not, and when they are being imported, if the input VAT has been paid. The “carnet†is practically the int. passport you speak of.

Re. executive level. Of course it would have that effect. Why not privatise the IRS and have Tarisio prosess David Burgess’s tax return.

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What gives them the right to do this?

I think if we could ask a customs officer no doubt he could tell us many odd stories of how people hide hazardous materials attempting to smuggle them through customs, so a funny smelling glue could arise suspicion. The fact that the owner may be a famous person does not guarantees security...I think the customs officer's insight is what will determine a good decision.

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Why not privatise the IRS and have Tarisio prosess David Burgess’s tax return.

Bad argument. That's actually been done to a certain extent, although it's usually TurboTax, not Tarisio.

I doesn’t concern who owns the instrument, even if it were stolen, but if they are being imported or not, and when they are being imported, if the input VAT has been paid. The “carnet†is practically the int. passport you speak of.

You're actually making this sound even worse for most of us. I wonder how many Maestronetters have (1) entered an EU country, (2) brought an instrument with no carnet, and (3) not paid VAT (because none was owed)? The carnet is a terrible solution for most musicians, and an international legal battle with German customs is even worse.

Since I have instruments that look exactly like multi-million-dollar antiques to the average customs official (and maybe even to me), what do you suggest?

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I have asked Michael K to post, but he is going to avoid this thread at all costs. I don’t blame him, he tried hard last time to zero effect. The system works perfectly, the only aspect that requires improvement would be that people acknowledge it’s existance and adhere to the rules. For the hundred and seventy third time, you can come to europe with your violin and go home with it again. If you should you be selling it here, you will have to pay the tax, just as if I sell someone a violin here, I have to charge VAT too.

What the hell is so diffucult to understand?

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well it seems the last couple expensive instruments have been related to "taxes" on instruments that have been purchased and paid for in the past - with clear documentation. Owners had the information - it seems the intent was to hold the instruments hostage for a time for unclear reasons. Nippon Music Foundation will have full and complete documentation on the 1736 Muntz Stradivari beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Bottom line the idea was a solution to the problem for the arts and for the musician. Right now you have musicians around the world who are scared to death to travel with their instruments upon reading about the horror stories coming out of Frankfurt Germany and the customs officials. Its stress enough to be loaned a multi-million dollar instrument, then travel internationally, and then suddenly have the instrument separated from you for reasons out of your control. You get enough people together to make changes things will happen.

I think there are some effective international solutions that can be made across borders outside these two incidents in Frankfurt Germany. Let any customs official inspect the instruments for explosives or swab around the instruments or x-ray them - that is completely fine and dandy no harm done. But there is no reason to hold the instruments ransom for taxes when there is full documentation that could digitally be accessed quickly right on the screen by the customs agent and cleared immediately. Carnets are one thing but I think we can go beyond that some how.

Its just ideas at this point. I digress - I'm will be waiting to see how the Nippon Music Foundation will respond to this situation. 2 Incidents back to back like this is going to start raising eyebrows quickly.

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well it seems the last couple expensive instruments have been related to "taxes" on instruments that have been purchased and paid for in the past - with clear documentation. Owners had the information - it seems the intent was to hold the instruments hostage for a time for unclear reasons. Nippon Music Foundation will have full and complete documentation on the 1736 Muntz Stradivari beyond a shadow of a doubt.

The incident in question gives us far too few details to come to any conclusions.

Therefore an entirely hyperthetical example.

-a violin be imported and taxed in JAPAN

-subsequently re-exported to a resident of the EU

-There will be input VAT to pay upon entry to the EU.

-Every object is ALWAYS held in lieu of tax.

END OF STORY

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