Arnold Schwarzenegger Detained at German Airport

By: ScreenGawk Staff | Published: Jan 31, 2024

Former California governor and celebrity Arnold Schwarzenegger was recently detained at the Munich Airport in Germany for several hours in a strange turn of events.

Apparently, Schwarzenegger forgot to declare a luxury watch that he planned to auction off for charity at an event in Austria, and the airport authorities had an almost unbelievable amount of questions about it.

“Arnie” Was on His Way to an Important Event

On January 16, 2024, Arnold “Arnie” Schwarzenegger was traveling from Los Angeles to Munich on his way to Austria for a fundraising event organized by his nonprofit, the Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative.

Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks at Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative Event

Source: Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative

And, according to the former governor, he brought one of his impressive luxury watches with him to auction off at the event.

The Watch

Although neither Arnie nor the German authorities have confirmed exactly which of his many watches was under investigation, a photo circulated of the box that showed the Audemars Piguet logo.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Pink Men's Watch - 26470OR.OO.1000OR.01

Source: eBay

Arnold has several Audemars Piguet watches, but those who know his collection well assume that it was the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph, ref. 26470OR.

When Officials Found the Watch, They Had Several Questions

Munich Airport officials found the watch in Arnold’s luggage after initiating a random check of his bags. He was consequently pulled aside and questioned as to why he had the watch and, more importantly, why he didn’t declare it upon arrival.

A Transportation Security Administration screener inspects a bag at an airport

Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

And while a source later explained that “[Arnold] was never asked to fill out a declaration form, and he answered every question from customs officers honestly,” Schwarzenegger was still detained for several hours.

Arnie Allegedly Had to Pay More Than $40,000 in Fines for His Mistake

As the watch was reportedly worth over $30,0000, the German officials reportedly charged the former governor $38,000, as well as $4,000 in tax value and a $5,000 penalty for forgetting to declare it upon arrival.

Arnold Schwarzenegger attends the Jamie Lee Curtis Hand and Footprint Ceremony

Source: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Sources say that Schwarzenegger immediately agreed to pay the fines; however, there were also several issues with the payment process.

German Authorities Couldn’t Find a Card Machine

Apparently, the airport officials struggled to find a functioning credit card machine to charge the star tens of thousands of dollars.

Person paying with a credit card via a mobile machine

Source: Freepik

And in the end, Arnie had to retrieve the money in cash from a bank terminal within the airport before he could leave with the watch.


Schwarzenegger’s Team Was Extremely Frustrated with the Proceedings

In addition to claiming that Arnold was never asked to declare anything upon his entry to Munich, his team also argued that, “He cooperated at every step even though it was an incompetent shakedown.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks onstage at an event in London

Source: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

They continued, “[It was] a total comedy of errors that would make a very funny cop movie… We hope next time they don’t make him pay taxes on his suits.”


The Authorities Believed Arnold Was Evading Tax Laws

A spokesperson for the Munich Customs Office defended Schwarzenegger’s detainment in a statement, saying, “The watch should have been registered because it is an import. If the goods remain in the EU, you have to declare them through customs.”

Police at the Munich Airport in Germany

Source: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

And continued, “This applies to everyone, whether their name is Schwarzenegger or Müller, Meier, Huber.”


The “Watch Will Probably Have to Stay”

Within all the commotion surrounding the expensive watch, German officials explained to Arnold and his team that even if they let him continue to Austria, the “watch will probably have to stay.”

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Pink Men's Watch - 26470OR.OO.1000OR.01 in its original box

Source: eBay

But luckily, after several hours and a hefty fine, both Schwarzenegger and his Audemars Piguet watch were released from custody.


Arnold Still Planned to Auction the Watch for Charity

Almost $50,000 is certainly a lot of money, but it’s significantly less for someone as wealthy as Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks in his keynote about digital sustainability during the Digital X event

Source: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Sources say that he was content to pay the fine and cooperated completely with the Munich Airport officials. And even after paying tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket, the Terminator still planned to auction the watch off for charity at his event the next day.


Munich Officials May Have Gotten this One Wrong

Now, many are arguing that if Arnorld was happy to pre-pay the import tax on his watch, the situation should never have lasted more than four hours.

Passengers walk under the arrivals and departures board at Munich Airport

Source: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Schwarzenegger apparently said in an interview after the fact, “This is the problem that Germany is suffering from. You can no longer see the forest for the trees.” And a spokesperson even said, “We hope Germany spends as much energy turning around their economy as they do asking for tax payments for people’s property they bring into the country.”


Be Careful to Declare Anything of Value When Arriving at the Munich Airport

Whether one believes that Arnold Schwarzenegger or the Munich Customs officials were in the right in this strange situation, the bottom line is the same.

Stock photo of a customs declaration form

Source: AdobeStock

And that is that everyone, regardless of their last name, should be extremely careful and declare anything of value when arriving at the Munich Airport if they don’t want to pay thousands of dollars in fines.