How the Eagles and “Hotel California” Became the Center of a Million Dollar Scheme

A multi-year odyssey of stolen lyric sheets came to an end this week, with a big trial set to follow.

Timothy B. Schmit and Don Henley of the Eagles perform at MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 27 2019 in Las Vegas Nevada.

Timothy B. Schmit and Don Henley of the Eagles perform at MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 27, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.Courtesy of Ethan Miller via Getty Images

If you were writing a heist movie script, you could come up with a lot worse than “three men try to stay one step ahead of Don Henley as they try to sell the stolen original, handwritten lyrics to ‘Hotel California.’” And now that movie even has an ending: The three accused Eagle-nappers have been charged in a New York court with attempting to sell Henley’s notes for over $1 million.

The New York trial is the culmination of a multi-year odyssey, during which “rock auctioneer” Edward Kosinski and his co-defendants (rare books seller Glenn Horowitz and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame director of acquisitions Craig Inciardi) allegedly obfuscated the origins of the materials, and actively worked to keep Eagles member Don Henley from getting them back. Per TMZ, the men had roughly 100 pages of Henley’s lyrics to three songs off their smash 1977 album, which has sold over 32 million copies worldwide: the title song, “Life in the Fast Lane,” and “New Kid in Town.” According to Rolling Stone, they had contacted major auction houses like Sotheby’s, and apparently sold some pages to Henley himself for $8,500.

According to the AP, Horowitz first came into possession of the lyrics in the mid-2000s, purchasing them from an unnamed writer who reportedly took them while interviewing the band for a book. Over the years this writer gave inconsistent explanations as to how he acquired the lyric sheets. (His most recent alibi, that Glenn Frey gave them to him, conveniently only came up in 2016, the year that Frey passed away.) Horowitz in turn then sold them to Kosinski and Inciardi, who allegedly worked to craft a coherent backstory about the documents’ origins.

Inciardi has since been suspended by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame until a “third party internal investigation” is conducted and the “extent of the charges” are known, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame CEO Joel Peresman told Rolling Stone.

Since becoming aware of the trio’s actions, Henley had contacted them to tell them the lyrics were stolen, and that he wanted them back. The New York prosecutors say that “rather than making any effort to ensure they actually had rightful ownership, the defendants responded by engaging in a years-long campaign to prevent Henley from recovering the manuscripts.”

“This action exposes the truth about music memorabilia sales of highly personal, stolen items hidden behind a façade of legitimacy,” Henley’s manager Irving Azoff told TMZ. “No one has the right to sell illegally obtained property or profit from the outright theft of irreplaceable pieces of musical history.”

Kosinski, Horowitz, and Inciardi all face fourth-degree conspiracy charges, as well as individual charges including “first-degree criminal possession of stolen property” (Inciardi and Kosinski) and “second-degree hindering prosecution” (Horowitz).

“The DA’s office alleges criminality where none exists and unfairly tarnishes the reputations of well-respected professionals,” lawyers for the three accused men said in a joint statement. “Despite six years of investigating the case, the DA hasn’t included a single factual allegation in the indictment showing that my client did anything wrong,” added Kosinski’s lawyer Antonia Apps.

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