German customs demand €380k for return of violin

22 August 2012, 12:48 | Updated: 30 September 2014, 14:20

Customs at Frankfurt airport have seized an antique violin from a Japanese violinist and are demanding a total of €380k in unpaid duty.

Japanese violinist Yuzuko Horigome had a nasty shock at Frankfurt airport when customs officials seized her 1741 Guarnerius violin, demanding a total of €380,000 euros for its return.

The violin itself is valued at $1.2m. When travelling through the 'nothing to declare' section, customs officials confiscated the instrument from the Belgium-based violinist on the grounds that she was unable to provide documents to prove her ownership of it.

She is currently required to either provide satisfactory proof of ownership or pay the fine. The violinist commented: "I have used Frankfurt airport many times and never had problems like this. I don't know why this happened."

Both the Belgian and Japanese governments have been contacted in an effort to secure the return of the violin, but as things stand it remains confiscated. The German government has suggested that the violin could be returned if it is deemed professionally necessary for Horigome's job.

Horigome has previously played with orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic.