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Eagles singer Don Henley sues for return of handwritten ‘Hotel California’ lyrics

By The Canadian Press

Published 2:55 PDT, Fri June 28, 2024

NEW YORK (AP) — Eagles singer Don Henley filed a lawsuit in New York on Friday seeking the return of his handwritten notes and song lyrics from the band’s hit “Hotel California” album.

The civil complaint filed in Manhattan federal court comes after prosecutors in March abruptly dropped criminal charges midway through a trial against three collectibles experts accused of scheming to sell the documents. 

The Eagles co-founder has maintained the pages were stolen and had vowed to pursue a lawsuit when the criminal case was dropped against rare books dealer Glenn Horowitz, former Rock & Roll Hall of Fame curator Craig Inciardi and rock memorabilia seller Edward Kosinski. 

“Hotel California,” released by the Eagles in 1977, is the third-biggest selling album of all time in the U.S.

“These 100 pages of personal lyric sheets belong to Mr. Henley and his family, and he has never authorized defendants or anyone else to peddle them for profit,” Daniel Petrocelli, Henley’s lawyer, said in an emailed statement Friday.

According to the lawsuit, the handwritten pages remain in the custody of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office, which declined to comment Friday on the litigation. 

Lawyers for Kosinski and Inciardi dismissed the legal action as baseless, noting the criminal case was dropped after it was determined that Henley misled prosecutors by withholding critical information. 

“Don Henley is desperate to rewrite history,” Shawn Crowley, Kosinski’s lawyer, said in an emailed statement. “We look forward to litigating this case and bringing a lawsuit against Henley to hold him accountable for his repeated lies and misuse of the justice system.”

Inciardi’s lawyer, Stacey Richman, said in a separate statement that the lawsuit attempts to “bully” and “perpetuate a false narrative.”

A lawyer for Horowitz, who isn’t named as a defendant as he doesn’t claim ownership of the materials, didn't respond to an email seeking comment.

During the trial, the men's lawyers argued that Henley gave the lyrics pages decades ago to a writer who worked on a never-published Eagles biography and later sold the handwritten sheets to Horowitz. He, in turn, sold them to Inciardi and Kosinski, who started putting some of the pages up for auction in 2012.

The criminal case was abruptly dropped after prosecutors agreed that defense lawyers had essentially been blindsided by 6,000 pages of communications involving Henley and his attorneys and associates. 

Prosecutors and the defense said they received the material only after Henley and his lawyers made a last-minute decision to waive their attorney-client privilege shielding legal discussions.

Judge Curtis Farber, who presided over the nonjury trial that opened in late February, said witnesses and their lawyers used attorney-client privilege “to obfuscate and hide information that they believed would be damaging” and that prosecutors “were apparently manipulated.”

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Associated Press reporter Jennifer Peltz in New York contributed to this report.

– Philip Marcelo, The Associated Press

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