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Thursday, July 15, 1999 Published at 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK


DiCaprio's Thai present problem

Leonardo DiCaprio: The videos were a gift to the school

Hollywood heart-throb Leonardo DiCaprio thought sending students in Thailand a gift of some videos would be a nice gesture - until their school was charged a fortune in customs duties.

DiCaprio, who recently filmed The Beach in Thailand, sent a parcel of 120 videotapes to a private school on the outskirts of Bangkok to thank them for devoting space to him on their Website while he was in the country.

But the gift has fallen foul of local customs officials, who seized the parcel, telling the Thai Rath newspaper that the value of the gift exceeded 500 Thai baht (£8.60) and the school would have to pay 12,000 baht (£206) in duties. The school insists it does not have the money.

Donations to government agencies and schools are tax-deductible, but as the school is private and most of the tapes were not educational, the gift did not qualify.

The videos are mostly profiles of DiCaprio, who stars in Woody Allen's latest film Celebrity, and copies of the movie that made him a household name, Titanic.

A spokesman for DiCaprio was unavailable to comment on the Thai Rath story.

It is not the first time he has hit trouble in Thailand. Earlier this year he was at the centre of protests by environmental activists who claimed the filming of The Beach would damage the ecological balance of the island of Phi Phi.

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