A rock memorabilia dealer and two other men have been charged over a scheme to sell allegedly stolen, handwritten lyrics to the classic rock song Hotel California by the Eagles.
- It is alleged Edward Kosinski, Glenn Horowitz and Craig Inciardi conspired to sell stolen, handwritten Hotel California lyrics to make a profit
- Lawyers for the trio say the charges are “unjustified” and they will fight them “vigorously”
- Irving Azoff says the case exposes the “facade of legitimacy” surrounding memorabilia sales
Prosecutors alleged the trio lied to auction houses and buyers about the manuscripts’ origin and coached the person who surrendered the material about what to say.
They alleged the men also tried to thwart Eagles co-founder Don Henley’s attempts to reclaim the items.
Rock auctioneer Edward Kosinski, Glenn Horowitz and Craig Inciardi pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges.
Mr Kosinski and Mr Inciardi were also charged with criminal possession of stolen property, and Mr Horowitz was charged with attempted criminal possession of stolen property and two counts of hindering prosecution.
They were released without bail.
In a statement, lawyers for the men insisted they were innocent.
“The DA’s office alleges criminality where none exists and unfairly tarnishes the reputations of well-respected professionals,” defence attorneys Antonia Apps, Jonathan Bach and Stacey Richman said in a statement.
It said they would vow to “fight these unjustified charges vigorously”.
Ms Apps, who represents Mr Kosinski, criticised the case against her client, characterising it as a “civil dispute” over ownership.
“[This is] the weakest criminal case I have seen in my entire career,” she said.
The documents included Henley’s Hotel California notes and lyrics, as well as two singles from the album Life in the Fast Lane and New Kid In Town.
Prosecutors valued the material at over $US1 million ($1.4 million).
Case ‘exposes truth’, band manager says
In a statement, the band’s manager Irving Azoff thanked prosecutors for their work.
“[The writings are] irreplaceable pieces of musical history and an integral part of the legacy Don Henley has created over the course of his 50-plus-year career,” he said.
Hotel California is a touchstone of 1970s rock, with one of the era’s most memorable guitar solos.
It tells a musical tale of being lured into a glitzy, mysterious hotel where “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”.
Henley has said the song is about excess and a dark side of the American dream.
The 1976 Grammy award-winning album has sold more than 26 million copies, making it one of the best selling in history.
Emails between trio shared
Prosecutors alleged Mr Horowitz bought the documents around 2005 from a writer who worked on a book about the Eagles in the late 1970s.
The writer then gave a variety of explanations to Mr Horowitz over the years about where the documents originated.
In emails included in the indictment, the writer said Henley’s assistant sent the documents from the musician’s Malibu home after the writer picked them out.
In another email, the writer found them discarded in a dressing-room backstage at an Eagles concert and in another email, claimed someone who worked for the band gave them to him.
“It was about 35 years ago and my memory is foggy,” the email stated.
By then, Mr Kosinski and Mr Inciardi had bought the documents from Mr Horowitz and Mr Kosinski listed them for sale on his online auction site, although questions were being asked about their origins.
In later emails, Mr Horowitz and Mr Inciardi worked to have the writer’s “explanation” shaped into a communication.
That resulted in an email sent in April 2012 saying he did not remember who gave him the documents.
According to events also outlined the indictment, Mr Kosinski sent the email to Henley’s lawyer.
Later that month, Mr Kosinski sold some Hotel California lyric sheets to Henley for $US8,500.
Mr Inciardi and Mr Kosinski then tried to peddle more Eagles documents to potential buyers through the international auction houses, Christie’s and Sotheby’s, while offering to sell some to Henley.
By 2017, Mr Horowitz asked the writer if he had received the material from founding Eagles member Glenn Frey.
Frey died in 2016.
The writer then provided a note to that effect.