Arnold Schwarzenegger Detained Over Pricey Watch at Munich Airport

For two and a half hours on Wednesday, German border officers were up against an unlikely foe: the Terminator.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the movie-star-turned-former-California-governor, found himself on the wrong side of customs at Munich International Airport when a routine inspection unearthed a luxury watch that the action star had failed to declare.

Mr. Schwarzenegger was reportedly en route to his native Austria from Los Angeles when customs officers at Munich discovered the watch, which the actor told customs officials was to be sold for charity, according to local news reports and a spokesman for the Munich airport’s customs division.

A dinner event and auction for Mr. Schwarzenegger’s Climate Initiative charity was scheduled to be held in Austria on Thursday evening.

Customs rules in Munich require travelers from outside the European Union to declare any goods from outside the E.U. that are valued at more than 430 euro (about $467). “Arnold didn’t do this,” said Thomas Meister, a spokesman for the Munich airport customs office.

A person close to Mr. Schwarzenegger who was familiar with what happened said that he had agreed to prepay potential taxes on the watch. The luxury gadget — from his personal collection — is still expected to be auctioned off Thursday evening, at which point the Climate Initiative would report the income to the authorities, as required, according to the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The European Union and the United Kingdom have a carve-out for imported goods that are intended for a charitable purpose. The items still need to be declared on arrival, according to E.U. policy, but if travelers can prove the items are being used for charity, they can avoid paying the associated fees.

Still, Mr. Schwarzenegger’s star power wasn’t enough to save him from customs bureaucracies. He’ll face formal criminal tax charges, Mr. Meister said, but any potential penalties would be decided during the proceedings.

John Yoon contributed reporting.

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