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Criminal trial over Eagles’ stolen “Hotel California” lyrics begins in Manhattan

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A criminal case involving stolen, handwritten lyrics to the Eagles’ rock megahit “Hotel California” and additional tunes is going to trial in a New York courtroom. Opening statements are set to begin Wednesday.

The three defendants — rare-book dealer Glenn Horowitz, former Rock & Roll Hall of Fame curator Craig Inciardi and memorabilia seller Edward Kosinski — are charged with conspiracy to sell nearly 100 stolen drafts of Eagles co-founder Don Henley’s handwritten notes and lyrics for the band’s best-selling album, “Hotel California.” The notes included lyrics-in-development for “Life in the Fast Lane,” “New Kid in Town” and “Hotel California.”  

Horowitz, Inciardi and Kosinski have all pleaded not guilty. Their lawyers have said the case “alleges criminality where none exists and unfairly tarnishes the reputations of well-respected professionals,” per the Associated Press.

ABC News reported that the defendants allegedly attempted to sell the manuscripts, manufactured false records of ownership and lied to auction houses, potential buyers and law enforcement about the origin of the material, despite knowing that the materials were stolen.

The notes were originally stolen in the late 1970s by Ed Sanders who was hired to write a biography of the Eagles, according to court documents. Sanders subsequently sold the notes to Horowitz in 2005. Horowitz then sold them to Inciardi and Kosinski, per the indictment.

Henley filed police reports after receiving word that the defendants were attempting to sell portions of the manuscripts. When asked by Henley to return his stolen property, the defendants failed to comply and instead, partook in a lengthy campaign to prevent Henley from recovering the notes.

The defendants’ lawyers maintained that Sanders had legal possession of the notes, and so did Horowitz, Inciardi and Kosinski. Defense attorneys reportedly said they plan to question how well Henley remembers his dealings with Sanders at the time, according to the Associated Press.

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