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Three Men Charged With Trying to Sell Stolen Notes for Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’

Prosecutors say the men carried out a "years-long campaign" to hide the origin of the notes, including by exploiting the death of late band member Glenn Frey.

Decades after Don Henley’s handwritten notes and lyrics for the Eagles album Hotel California were stolen, Manhattan prosecutors have indicted three men who they say tried to profit from the illicit materials.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr. said Tuesday (July 12) he had charged Glenn Horowitz, 66, Craig Inciardi, 58, and Edward Kosinski, 59, with conspiracy over their efforts to resell and hide the origin of the stolen notes, which include material from “Hotel California” and other iconic songs from the band and are worth more than $1 million.

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Bragg said that Horowitz even stooped so low as to exploit the 2016 death of Eagles member Glenn Frey by claiming that Frey was the source of the artifacts – a claim he allegedly hoped could not be refuted by the late co-frontman.

“These defendants attempted to keep and sell these unique and valuable manuscripts, despite knowing they had no right to do so,” Bragg said. “They made up stories about the origin of the documents and their right to possess them so they could turn a profit.”

In a joint statement, attorneys for Horowitz, Inciardi and Kosinski sharply refuted the charges and vowed to clear their clients’ names: “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.”

In a statement to Billboard, Henley’s manager Irving Azoff praised the filing of the charges, saying the case “exposes the truth” about memorabilia sales of stolen goods.

“No one has the right to sell illegally obtained property or profit from the outright theft of irreplaceable pieces of musical history,” Azoff said. “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.”

According to prosecutors, Henley’s notes were originally stolen in the late 1970s by an author who had been hired to write a biography of the Eagles. The thief then sold them to Horowitz, a rare book dealer, who in turn sold them along to Inciardi and Kosinski. Authorities say that Henley filed a police report and demanded the return of his property when he learned that Inciardi and Kosinski were attempting to sell the manuscripts, but that the duo responded with a “years-long campaign” to avoid giving them back.

After the pair worked to “fabricate” the origins of Henley’s notes, they allegedly tried to both sell them back to Henley and auction them off through Christie’s and Sotheby’s auction houses, Bragg claims. As part of the auction process, prosecutors say the two lied about the materials and attempted to persuade Sotheby’s to do the same when dealing with prospective buyers.

The dragnet began to close in 2016, when prosecutors say they executed search warrants and recovered the stolen documents. Around this time, authorities say Horowitz gave false statements to cover the theft, including one that cited the recently-deceased Frey.

“He produced a new false statement of provenance, this time claiming that the materials originated from the now-deceased Frey,” Bragg’s office wrote Tuesday. “In one email message, Horowitz observed that ‘[Frey] alas, is dead and identifying him as the source would make this go away once and for all.’”

In technical terms, all three defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy in the fourth degree. Both Inciardi and Kosinski are charged with criminal possession of stolen property in the first degree, while Horowitz faces a charge of attempted criminal possession of stolen property in the first degree and two counts of hindering prosecution in the second degree.