Customs agents seize $158k worth of counterfeit guitars, including fake Gibsons, Fenders and Martins, at Washington DC airport

US customs agents seized 36 counterfeit guitars
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U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Washington Dulles International Airport in Washington DC recently seized 36 counterfeit guitars from China.

The guitars, which included 27 “Gibsons”, six “Fenders”, two “Martin” acoustics and one “PRS”, arrived in 36 separate shipments on December 15. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, their combined retail price, if authentic, would be $158,692.

Upon their arrival, however, officers suspected the guitars, which included a Jimmy Page double neck and a model autographed by Slash, were counterfeit ,and detained all the instruments.

The report also cites the most expensive of the bunch to be an Ace Frehley Les Paul which, if real, would be valued at $9,000.

The guitars, according to, were heading to addresses in 21 different states, as well as Australia.

Customs and Border Protection import specialists worked with the manufacturers and trademark holders and confirmed the guitars to be counterfeit. The seizure was completed on January 20.

Said Keith Fleming, CBP’s Acting Director of Field Operations in Baltimore, “Transnational criminal organizations will counterfeit anything that generates illicit revenues, and unscrupulous vendors line their pockets by preying on unsuspecting consumers.

“Protecting intellectual property rights is a Customs and Border Protection trade enforcement priority, and CBP officers will continue to seize counterfeit and potentially unsafe consumer goods when we encounter them.”

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.