Stolen Eagles lyrics for 'Hotel California' at center of trial

ByAaron Katersky ABCNews logo
Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Opening statements are set to begin Wednesday in the trial of three men charged in an alleged conspiracy to sell nearly 100 stolen pages of Eagles founding member Don Henley's handwritten notes and lyrics for the band's landmark album "Hotel California."

Glenn Horowitz, Craig Inciardi and Edward Kosinki are charged with conspiracy in the case. All three defendants have pleaded not guilty.

According to the indictment, the suspects possessed the stolen notes that included lyrics to the hit songs "Hotel California," "Life in the Fast Lane," and "New Kid In Town."

Despite knowing that the materials were stolen, the defendants allegedly attempted to sell the manuscripts, manufactured false provenance and lied to auction houses, potential buyers, and law enforcement about the origin of the material, the Manhattan district attorney's office said.

The manuscripts were originally stolen in the late 1970's by an author who had been hired to write a biography of the Eagles, according to court documents. The biographer eventually sold the manuscripts in 2005 to Horowitz, a rare books dealer, who in turn sold them to Inciardi and Kosinski, the indictment alleges.

When Henley learned they were trying to sell portions of the manuscripts, he filed police reports, told the defendants that the materials were stolen, and demanded the return of his property, according to prosecutors. Rather than making any effort to ensure they actually had rightful ownership, the defendants allegedly responded by engaging in a years-long campaign to prevent Henley from recovering the manuscripts.

According to the indictment, Horowitz and Inciardi worked to fabricate the manuscripts' provenance -- the record of ownership -- and attempted to use that false statement of provenance to coerce Henley into buying back his stolen property. When trying to sell the manuscripts through Christie's, Inciardi allegedly lied and withheld information regarding Henley's claims.

The Manhattan district attorney's office retrieved Henley's stolen manuscripts from Sotheby's and from Kosinski's New Jersey residence, including 84 pages to songs from "Hotel California."

Not long after, Horowitz attempted to exploit the death of founding Eagles member Glenn Frey to prevent criminal prosecution: He allegedly produced a new false statement of provenance, this time claiming that the materials originated from Frey.

"[Frey] alas, is dead and identifying him as the source would make this go away once and for all," prosecutors quoted Horowitz as writing in an email.

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