A Manhattan district attorney has announced the indictment of three men in a New York court on charges of conspiracy to sell Don Henley’s original lyrics and notes for the Eagles’ landmark 1976 “Hotel California” album. The manuscripts fell out of Henley’s hands in the late ’70s and eventually came into the possession of the indicted trio in the 2000s, after which they allegedly tried to sell the items to top auction houses, and even to Henley himself.
The indictment of Glenn Horowitz, Craig Inciardi and Edward Kosinski was announced Tuesday by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr., who said in a statement, “These defendants attempted to keep and sell these unique and valuable manuscripts, despite knowing they had no right to do so. They made up stories about the origin of the documents and their right to possess them so they could turn a profit.”
The allegedly purloined materials were described as including 84 pages of Henley’s rough materials for “Hotel California,” largely considered to be the Eagles’ signature work and on many lists of the greatest rock albums of all time, including handwritten lyrics to the title track “Life in the Fast Lane” and “New Kid In Town.” A statement from the D.A. valued the manuscripts at about $1 million.
A statement from attorneys for the three defendants denied any wrongdoing: “The DA’s office alleges criminality where none exists and unfairly tarnishes the reputations of well-respected professionals. We will fight these unjustified charges vigorously. These men are innocent.” The statement was issued by attorneys Jonathan Bach, representing Horowitz; Stacey Richman, representing Inciardi; and Antonia Apps, whose client is Kosinski.
One of the defendants, Inciardi, is a curator and director of acquisitions at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, who was recently interviewed for a Variety story in March on the opening of the Hall’s Beatles “Get Back” exhibit. According to Rolling Stone, he has been suspended from the museum pending results of further investigation. “At this time we do not know whether Craig engaged in any wrongdoing,” the Hall’s president-CEO, Joel Peresman, wrote in a letter that Rolling Stone obtained. “He will remain on leave pending the resolution of the third party internal investigation and the extent of the charges once the indictment is unsealed.”
A website for Horowitz lists a number of premium sales he has been involved with, including the purchase of Bob Dylan materials for the newly opened Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa, OK. He is described as “an agent in the sale and placement of culturally significant archives to research institutions nationwide” who has represented Norman Mailer, David Foster Wallace and Vladimir Nabokov, among others.
Said Henley’s manager, Irving Azoff, in a statement, “We are thankful to New York County District Attorney Alvin Bragg and his staff for pursuing this case and have faith that justice will be served. This action exposes the truth about music memorabilia sales of highly personal, stolen items hidden behind a facade of legitimacy. No one has the right to sell illegally obtained property or profit from the outright theft of irreplaceable pieces of musical history. These handwritten lyrics are an integral part of the legacy Don Henley has created over the course of his 50-plus-year career. We look forward to the return of Don’s property, for him and his family to enjoy and preserve for posterity.”
Developments in the case have been quietly ongoing for years, as search warrants were executed beginning in December 2016 by the Manhattan DA to retrieve the manuscripts from an auction house, Sotheby’s, as well as Kosinski’s home in New Jersey. Inciardi and Kosinski were both described in the DA’s statement as having attempted to sell the documents to Sotheby’s and Christie’s, even as Henley informed the auctioneers that they belonged to him, however many decades they’d been out of the musician’s possession.
Court documents purport that the manuscripts were stolen in the late ’70s by a biographer who was working on an apparently unpublished book about the Eagles; that person has not been identified by the D.A. or band reps. It’s alleged that this unnamed writer sold the collectibles in 2005 to Horowitz, who then sold them to Inciardi and Kosinski.
Henley learned of the attempted sale and demanded the manuscripts’ return. Horowitz and Inciardi are then described in the indictment as working to “fabricate the manuscripts’ provenance” and “coerce Don Henley into buying back his stolen property,” even as Inciardi and Kosinski were simultaneously trying to sell them to the two prominent auction houses as well.
The release from the DA says the defendants allegedly concocted a story to obscure where the documents came from, telling others in recent years that they actually came from the late Glenn Frey, who died in 2016. The court papers quote an email Horowitz is said to have sent saying that Frey “alas, is dead and identifying him as the source would make this go away once and for all.”
“New York is a world-class hub for art and culture, and those who deal cultural artifacts must scrupulously follow the law,” the DA, Bragg, said. “There is no room for those who would seek to ignore the basic expectations of fair dealing and undermine the public’s confidence and trust in our cultural trade for their own ends.”
All three defendants are charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with one count of Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree. From there, additional charges were leveled: Inciardi (a Brooklyn resident) and Kosinski (of Franklin Lakes, NJ) also face a charge of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the First Degree, while Horowitz (of New York City) is being charged with three additional counts: Attempted Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the First Degree and two counts of Hindering Prosecution in the Second Degree.