German customs return second violin to Japanese musician

The German customs authorities at Frankfurt Airport have returned the second violin they’ve confiscated from Japanese musicians in roughly two months. Yuki Manuela Janke‘s $7.6 million Stradivarius violin was returned on Tuesday after it was confiscated on September 28th with the demand of $1.5 million in taxes and duty for its return. At least Janke had her instrument returned much quicker than Yuzuko Horigome, another Europe-based musician who had to struggle for nearly a month to get her violin returned after she was accused of not declaring it.

Living in Germany, 26 year old Janke says she’s relieved to have the 1736 Stradivarius returned, and that now she can concentrate on her performances in the upcoming concert season. She currently leases the instrument from Japan’s Nippon Music Foundation, and while she presented German customs with paperwork proving the contract, insurance, and that the violin had been legally imported to Japan, they said $1.5 million in taxes needed to be paid on the ground that she could sell it while in Germany. Neither Janke nor the Nippon Music Foundation have made it clear whether they forked over the dough to get the violin back, or if customs authorities returned it knowing they were busted for pulling the same move twice.

In August, Belgium-based Yuzuko Horigome had her 1741 Guarnerius violin confiscated after she failed to declare it while transiting through Frankfurt. While she didn’t have her ownership paperwork on hand, Horigome has been living and working in Europe for more than 30 years, and had passed through the Frankfurt Airport with her instrument dozens of times without issue. Customs stated she needed to pay nearly $500,000, but it was returned just over a month later after the matter was finally cleared up. Interestingly Janke’s violin was taken at nearly the same time as Horigome’s was returned.