US customs seize $158K worth of counterfeit guitars in Virginia

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US customs seize $158K worth of counterfeit guitars in Virginia

Words by Aidan Williams

No strings attached.

Coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic and a rough diplomatic patch with our biggest trade relation, imports and exports of foreign goods into Australia are at a low. But despite these uncertain times, one thing has remained: there’s still counterfeit guitars trying to make it to Aussie shores. 

On February 8, U.S. Customs and Border Protection released a statement regarding the seizing of 36 counterfeit guitars at Washington Dulles Airport, that if authentic, would have had a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $158,692. 

The guitars arrived in 36 different shipments from China on December 15 and were bound for 21 different states across America, as well as some destined for new homes in Australia.

The CBP import specialists worked with the trademark holders and confirmed the guitars to be counterfeit, after completing the seizure on January 20 2021. The CBP’s offical report also cites the most expensive of the seized guitars to be an Ace Frehley Les Paul which, that if real, would be valued at $9,000 USD.

The assorted collection consisted of 27 Gibson, six Fender, two CF Martin and one Paul Reed Smith guitars. Amongst the mix though most notably was an allegedly signed Gibson axe by Guns ‘N’ Roses guitarist Slash, as well as another that was labelled as Jimmy Paige’s Gibson Double Neck guitar.

The report also praised the success of the seizure, and the noted the deeper impact counterfeiting goods can have than just disgruntled buyers. The CBP wrote that the sale of fake items often “result in job loss, steal tax revenues” from the US economy, and that the guitars are often constructed in ‘unregulated facilities’ with potentially harmful materials that could threaten consumers health’. 

CBP officers have not encountered any additional guitars since these 36 arrived.

Find out more via the US Customs and Border Protection website.