German customs officials said Saturday that a $1.2 million violin seized from a Japanese professional musician over unpaid duty will be returned to her. Belgium-based Yuzuko Horigome will not have to pay any tariffs or penalties, customs officials said.
On Aug 16, Belgium-based Yuzuko Horigome was transiting through Frankfurt Airport after performing in Japan when her violin was confiscated. When she tried to walk through the green gate for travelers arriving in the EU with nothing to declare, customs officers stopped her and said she needed to pay 190,000 euros in duty on her 1741 Guarnerius violin.
On top of this were fines, taking the total cost to 380,000 euros.
Customs confiscated the valuable fiddle because she could not provide the documents for her 1986 purchase. Guarnerius violins are considered among the world’s best, ranked alongside those made by Stradivarius and Amati.
Horigome, 54, who has worked in Europe for three decades, has since submitted documents to prove her ownership of the violin. She bought the violin in Japan in 1986.
Horigome plays in cities around the world with top conductors and orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the Berliner Philharmoniker.