Best keyboard exporter to a supposed rogue nation (2008)

Benjamin Treuhaft

Though the Treasury Department claims he owes them a fine of $10,000 for "trading with the enemy," Benjamin Treuhaft prefers to think of his crime as "tuning with the enemy." It's been 13 years since he started shipping pianos to Cuba. It's not as if he's mildly pursing his mission—he's actually sent food receipts from his trips to the U.S. government to provoke it. It worked, but even when the Feds decided to cut his fine down to $3,500, his cheeky response was "OK, when can you send me the money?" Treuhaft estimates that the government has tried to fine hundreds of people in this way but found that when you don't back down "they're just paper tigers." Being a daddy now, he finds that he doesn't travel to Cuba as much, though he has raised funds to get a machine that makes bass strings sent there. (These handmade strings are the heart of a piano.) He knows that his taunting won't stop the embargo, but hopes that eventually the Cubans will be able to manufacture strings for themselves. Treuhaft named his Cuban string venture after someone who inspired his work: The Helms-Treuhaft Piano Bass String Co. gets the first half of its name from the conservative former North Carolina senator who demanded tougher sanctions against Cuba.


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