Three Men Charged for Trying to Sell Stolen ‘Hotel California’ Notes and Lyrics

Worth over $1 million, the handwritten materials were originally stolen from the Eagles’ Don Henley in the 1970s

Don Henley and Glenn Frey
Don Henley and Glenn Frey of the Eagles performing at Madison Square Garden in 2008 Photo by Gary Gershoff / WireImage via Getty Images

Life in the fast lane has come back to bite three men indicted for trying to sell stolen lyrics from the Eagles’ Hotel California. The approximately 100 pages of Don Henley’s handwritten notes for songs—including “Hotel California,” “New Kid In Town” and “Life in the Fast Lane”—are valued at over $1 million, according to a statement from the New York district attorney’s office.

Glenn Horowitz, Craig Inciardi and Edward Kosinski were charged with conspiracy in the fourth degree; other charges included criminal possession of stolen property and hindering the prosecution. Prosecutors say that in addition to trying to sell the materials, the trio also allegedly engaged in a “years-long campaign” to keep Henley from reacquiring them—even after Henley filed police reports and informed the men that the materials were stolen.

“They made up stories about the origin of the documents and their right to possess them so they could turn a profit,” says Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in the statement.

Hotel California is one of the best-selling albums in history, with over 26 million copies sold since its release in 1976. Its title track, of the same name, is known for its haunting lyrics that have intrigued generations of listeners, as well as one of the most iconic guitar solos of its time.

“It’s not really about California; it’s about America,” Henley told CBS News in 2016. “It’s about the dark underbelly of the American dream.”

Per the prosecutors, the materials were originally stolen in the late 1970s by an unidentified writer who was working on a biography of the Eagles. This writer sold them to Horowitz, a rare book dealer, in 2005, reports the Washington Post’s María Luisa Paúl. Horowitz then sold them to Kosinski, a rock auctioneer, and Inciardi, a curator at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. (The organization has since suspended him, per Rolling Stone’s Cheyenne Roundtree.)

Inciardi and Kosinski tried to sell the materials through the auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s; they also tried to persuade Henley to buy more of them back.  

“Don Henley still wants this back,” reads an email that Kosinski allegedly sent to Sotheby’s in 2016, according to CNN’s Sonia Moghe. “Please do not tell any potential bidders that [Henley’s] attorneys are inquiring about the lyrics.”

In late 2016, the district attorney’s office carried out multiple search warrants, seizing documents from both Kosinski’s residence and Sotheby’s, per the statement. But the men still tried to avoid prosecution: In a 2017 email, Horowitz suggested using the recent death of Eagles member Glenn Frey to their advantage: “[Frey] alas, is dead and identifying him as the source would make this go away once and for all.”

According to Rolling Stone, the men could face up to four years in prison. And, in the meantime, Henley will get the papers back.

“These handwritten lyrics are an integral part of the legacy Don Henley has created over the course of his 50-plus-year career,” says Irving Azoff, Henley’s manager, in a statement to Billboard’s Bill Donahue. “We look forward to the return of Don’s property, for him and his family to enjoy and preserve for posterity.”