The Les Paul ax autographed by Guns and Roses guitarist Slash would have been worth at least $8,000 — if only it was real.

Instead it was a clever fake, part of a shipment of 85 guitars seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Washington Dulles International Airport earlier this month.

The collection included 72 Gibsons, but also models from C.F. Martin, Fender, Kramer and Taylor. Also included were 13 acoustic guitars. The Les Paul ax wasn’t the only one purportedly with a celebrity signature — other guitars included fake “autographs” by Les Paul and AC/DC’s Angus Young.

The most recent shipment arrived from China on March 31. CBP officers inspected and detained them. Experts at the agency’s Centers of Excellence and Expertise worked with trademark holders to determine that the guitars violated trademark protections. Officers completed the seizure on June 9.

“The international trade in counterfeit and pirated goods threatens the competitiveness of American businesses and the livelihoods of U.S. workers while funding criminal activity,” Keith Fleming, CBP’s acting director of field operations in Baltimore, said in a news release announcing the seizure. “More importantly, counterfeit goods pose a serious health and safety risk to American consumers.”

The guitars were slated to be shipped to addresses in 31 states, including 10 in California and four in Virginia.

This is the second significant seizure of counterfeit guitars this year, agency officials said. In January, officers seized 36 counterfeit guitars that had been shipped from China that if genuine, would have been worth nearly $160,000. That collection also included, yes, another guitar supposedly autographed by Slash.


An earlier version of this article misidentified the Customs and Border Protection division whose experts determined that the guitars violated trademark protections. It is the Centers of Excellence and Expertise, not the Centers for Excellent and Expertise. The article has been corrected.