NEW YORK (AP) — A rock memorabilia dealer and two other men were charged Tuesday with conspiring to sell allegedly ill-gotten handwritten lyrics to the classic rock juggernaut “Hotel California” and other Eagles hits.
Prosecutors said the trio lied to auction houses and buyers about the manuscripts’ fuzzy origin channel, advising the person who provided the material on what to say. Meanwhile, the men attempted to thwart Eagles co-founder Don Henley’s efforts to retrieve the items, prosecutors say.
“They made up stories about where the documents came from and their right to possess them so they could profit from them,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said.
Through their attorneys, rock auctioneer Edward Kosinski and co-defendants Glenn Horowitz and Craig Inciardi pleaded not guilty to the conspiracy charges. Kosinski and Inciardi were also charged with criminal possession of stolen property, and Horowitz was charged with attempted criminal possession of stolen property and two counts of obstructing prosecution. They were released without bail.
Their lawyers insist the men are innocent.
“The DA’s office is alleging crime where there is none and unfairly tarnishing the reputations of highly respected professionals,” defense attorneys Antonia Apps, Jonathan Bach and Stacey Richman said in a statement vowing to “fight vigorously against these unwarranted accusations”.
Apps, who represents Kosinski, later called the charges “the weakest criminal case I’ve seen in my entire career,” calling it a “civil dispute” over property.
“Despite six years of investigation into the case, the prosecutor has not included a single factual allegation in the indictment showing that my client did anything wrong,” she said in a statement. communicated.
The trove of documents included Henley’s liner notes and lyrics for “Hotel California” and two other singles from that self-titled hit album: “Life in the Fast Lane” and “New Kid In Town.” Prosecutors valued the material at more than $1 million.
The writings are “irreplaceable pieces of musical history” and “an integral part of the legacy that Don Henley has created over his 50-plus-year career,” said longtime Eagles manager Irving. Azoff, in a statement.
He thanked prosecutors for bringing a case that exposes “the truth about musical memorabilia sales of highly personal stolen items hidden behind a facade of legitimacy.”
The chart-topping, Grammy-winning single “Hotel California” is a touchstone of 1970s rock, with one of the era’s most memorable guitar solos crowning musical history. of being lured into a glitzy, mysterious hotel where “you can check out whenever you want, but you can never leave. Theories about its meaning abound; Henley said it was all about excess and a side shadow of the American dream.
The Grammy-winning album has sold over 26 million copies since its release in 1976, making it one of the best-selling albums in history.
According to prosecutors and an indictment, Horowitz purchased the documents circa 2005 from a writer who worked on an unpublished book about the Eagles in the late ’70s.
The writer, who is not identified in the indictment, has given various explanations to Horowitz over the years about the provenance of the documents.
In an email included in the indictment, the writer says Henley’s assistant sent them from the musician’s home in Malibu, Calif., after the writer picked them; in another, the writer found them thrown into a backstage box at an Eagles concert; in another, someone who worked for the group gave them to him.
“That was about 35 years ago and my memory is hazy!” the writer said in a 2012 email.
By then, Kosinski and Inciardi had purchased the documents from Horowitz; Kosinski had listed them for sale on his online auction site and inquiries about their origins were looming.
In subsequent emails, Horowitz and Inciardi worked to turn the writer’s “explanation” into a communication” – eventually, an April 2012 email saying he couldn’t remember who told him gave the documents. Kosinski sent it to Henley’s attorney, according to the indictment.
Later that month, Kosinski sold “Hotel California” lyric sheets to Henley for $8,500, according to the indictment.
Inciardi and Kosinski then attempted to sell more Eagles papers to other potential buyers through Christie’s and Sotheby’s auction houses, while also offering to sell some to Henley, according to the deed. charge.
In 2017, with not only Henley’s attorneys but also the district attorney’s office asking questions, Horowitz asked the writer if he had obtained the documents from fellow Eagles founding member Glenn Frey. according to the indictment. Frey had died the previous year.
“Once you identify GF as the source of the tablet, you and I are out of this picture for good,” Horowitz wrote in a follow-up email.
The writer then provided a note to that effect, according to the indictment.