Three indicted for conspiracy to sell stolen papers with Eagles lyrics


It was the late 1970s and the world was basking in the golden age of rock and roll. The Eagles experienced a surge in popularity which peaked with the release of “Hotel California” in December 1976.

The album confirmed the Eagles’ place in the American music scene and the band’s status as rock royalty. But pages of handwritten lyrics and notes behind some of the charts mysteriously disappeared shortly after — only to resurface nearly five decades later as the frontispiece of a New York Supreme Court indictment.

Three men were charged Tuesday with attempting to sell the cache of papers — including about 100 pages filled with the lyrics to songs like “New Kid in Town,” “Life in the Fast Lane” and the iconic “Hotel California” — despite lack of proper rights to the materials.

Rock auctioneer Edward Kosinski, rare bookseller Glenn Horowitz and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame acquisitions director Craig Inciardi were charged with conspiracy to sell the stolen pages — worth more than $1 million — by lying and telling authorities trying to figure out where the material came from and prevented their rightful owner, Don Henley, founder of Eagles, from taking it over.

“These defendants tried to keep and sell these unique and valuable manuscripts, even though they knew they had no right to do so. They made up stories about the provenance of the documents and their right to possess them so that they could make a profit,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg said in a press release.

Attorneys for Kosinski, Horowitz and Inciardi — who pleaded not guilty in court on Tuesday — did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Washington Post. In a joint statement, however, they deemed the allegations unjustified, Law & Crime reports.

“The DA’s office alleges crime where it does not exist and unfairly damages the reputation of respected professionals,” the men’s lawyers said in a statement to the outlet. “We will vigorously fight these false charges. These men are innocent.”

How the papers came into the hands of three collecting magnates—and nearly sold by auction giants Sotheby’s and Christie’s—is a story that begins when former Eagles guitarist Don Felder began writing the song “Hotel California” after joining the group in 1974.

Now it’s the Eagles vs. Hotel California in a federal court

Felder shared a demo reminiscent of “Mexican reggae” with Henley and Glenn Frey, the Eagles frontman who passed away in 2016, and they came up with the concept and cinematic lyrics for the song, which would eventually take the album of the same name to #1. catapult. in 1977. Since then, “Hotel California” — which draws inspiration from hotel life and “the dark underbelly of the American Dream,” Henley told CBS News — has sparked conspiracy theories about its lyrics and praise for its haunting guitar arpeggio.

The song’s creation process was documented by Henley in pages that disappeared after a writer working on a book about the band got hold of them. The writer — who was not identified in the indictment — then sold the items to Horowitz in 2005, who in turn sold them to the other two men, according to court documents.

When Henley realized that Inciardi and Kosinki were trying to sell the long-lost manuscripts, he told them it was stolen material, demanded them back and filed police reports. But “instead of making any effort to ensure that they actually owned the rightful property, the defendants responded by launching a years-long campaign to prevent Henley from getting the manuscripts back,” prosecutors say.

Although prosecutors allege that the unnamed writer stole the papers, in 2012 the writer said in communication with the accused trio that he recalled “finding the material discarded in a locker room backstage at an Eagles concert.” He later said he obtained them through Henley’s assistant after staying at the musician’s Malibu home. In 2016, the writer changed his story again, saying that Frey had secretly given him the papers — a convenient way, prosecutors say, to claim ownership of the material once Frey died and could no longer dispute the account.

Frey “unfortunately, is dead and identifying him as the source would make this disappear once and for all,” Horowitz reportedly wrote in an email that year, according to court documents.

Don Henley says the Eagles are ready. It was always Glenn Frey’s band.

The changing stories were part of a five-year effort to auction the materials, the indictment alleges. Although Sotheby’s and Christie’s were initially interested in selling the papers, the items never came up for auction; from December 2016, authorities began issuing search warrants to retrieve the materials from Sotheby’s and Kosinski’s home in New Jersey.

Now it looks like the 100 pages of scribbles, notes and lyrics will find their way back to Henley.

“Nobody has the right to sell illegally acquired property or profit from the outright theft of irreplaceable pieces of music history,” Henley’s manager, Irving Azoff, told Billboard. “These handwritten lyrics are an integral part of the legacy Don Henley has created over the course of his 50-year career. We look forward to the return of Don’s property for him and his family to enjoy and preserve for posterity.”

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