Why was Arnold Schwarzenegger detained at the Munich Airport? Explaining the undeclared watch controversy

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Munich Airport detention: Unraveling the undeclared watch controversy


In an unexpected turn of events, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the iconic actor and former governor of California, found himself in a customs quandary at Munich Airport. The controversy surrounds a luxury watch that the Terminator star allegedly failed to declare, leading to a three-hour detainment by customs officers.


The Undeclared Watch

The focal point of the controversy is an Audemars Piguet watch that Schwarzenegger had purportedly planned to sell at an auction in support of his climate crisis charity, the Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative. The watch, crafted especially for the actor by the Swiss luxury watchmaker, was discovered by customs officers during a routine search of his luggage upon arrival from Los Angeles.


Customs Proceedings and Criminal Tax Proceedings

According to a spokesperson for the main customs office in Munich, criminal tax proceedings have been initiated against Schwarzenegger. The spokesperson stated, “The watch should have been registered because it is an import.” German customs rules mandate the declaration of imported goods, irrespective of the individual’s status.

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Schwarzenegger’s Explanation

Schwarzenegger, 76, contends that he attempted to inform officials that the watch was intended for donation to his climate initiative and was slated to be auctioned in Kitzbühel, Austria. In an interview with Bild, he expressed frustration, stating, “This is the problem that Germany is suffering from. You can no longer see the forest for the trees.”


Penalties and Resolution

Customs officials reportedly charged Schwarzenegger €35,000, comprising €4,000 in taxes and a €5,000 penalty. Despite offering to pay the charges with his credit card, German customs rules necessitate half of the amount to be settled in cash. Schwarzenegger was accompanied to a bank by customs officials to withdraw the required cash before being allowed to continue his journey.


Equal Treatment under Customs Rules

German customs officials emphasized that the obligation to declare goods through customs applies universally, regardless of one’s fame or stature. “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,” stated a customs spokesperson.

Auction for Climate Initiative

The contested watch is set to be auctioned at an event hosted by Schwarzenegger in Kitzbühel. Other auction lots include unique experiences such as a training session with the actor, artworks, signed exhibits, and offerings from the worlds of sports and film. The proceeds from the auction will support the Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative, which actively promotes global climate projects.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s detention at Munich Airport sheds light on the stringent customs regulations applied universally, irrespective of one’s celebrity status. The controversy surrounding the undeclared watch has inadvertently drawn attention to the actor’s philanthropic efforts in fighting pollution and climate change through his Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative. As the incident unfolds, it serves as a reminder that even global icons are subject to the same rules that govern international travel.