The handwritten words of the popular song "Hotel California" by the Eagles are the focus of an upcoming criminal trial.

The handwritten words of the popular song “Hotel California” by the Eagles are the focus of an upcoming criminal trial.

In the late 1970s, the Eagles were in the process of creating a mysterious and enigmatic piece of music in New York.

Don Henley and Glenn Frey, co-founders of the band, used a lined yellow notepad to write about a “dark highway in the desert” and “a beautiful location” that exuded both opulence and foreboding. They also mentioned something frozen, possibly caviar, Taittinger, or pink Champagne.

The song, “Hotel California,” became one of rock’s most indelible singles. And nearly a half-century later, those handwritten pages of lyrics-in-the-making have become the center of an unusual criminal trial set to open Wednesday.

Accused of plotting to possess and attempt to sell unauthorized copies of “Hotel California” and other popular songs by the Eagles.

The trio has entered a plea of not guilty and their legal representatives have stated that the individuals did not commit any wrongdoing with the documents, which were obtained through a writer who had collaborated with the Eagles. However, the Manhattan district attorney’s office claims that the defendants conspired to conceal the disputed ownership of the papers, even though they were aware that Henley had declared them stolen.

Timothy B. Schmit,Glenn Frey,Don Henley,Joe Walsh

The members of The Eagles, namely Timothy B. Schmit, Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and Joe Walsh, can be seen in the photo with an autographed guitar during a press conference at the Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2013, in Park City, Utah.

Unfortunately, this text cannot be reworded as it is a citation for a photo taken by Chris Pizzello for the Associated Press.

Unique trial  

Disputes over precious collectibles are common, but criminal court cases like this are infrequent. Most conflicts are settled in a confidential manner, through legal actions or by agreeing to return the possessions.

Travis McDade, a law professor at the University of Illinois who specializes in rare document disputes, stated that in order to avoid prosecution, many individuals simply choose to surrender the item in question.

The situation surrounding the Eagles manuscripts is unique in other aspects as well.

The main witness for the prosecution is Henley, who is scheduled to give testimony during breaks in the Eagles’ tour. This trial without a jury could provide insight into the band’s methods of creation and their glamorous lifestyle in the 1970s.

What’s in dispute   

The subject in question pertains to more than 80 pages of initial song lyrics from the popular 1976 album “Hotel California,” which includes the lyrics to the hit and award-winning track. This song is known for its iconic riff, famous solo, and frequently referenced – possibly overused – line: “You are able to depart at any time, but you will never truly leave.”

According to Henley, the song explores the negative aspects of the American dream.

According to Luminate, an entertainment data company, the song “Hotel California” was streamed a total of 220 million times and received 136,000 airplay spins in the U.S. last year. The album it is featured on has sold 26 million copies across the country over time, ranking second only to the Eagles’ greatest hits album and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

The pages also contain words from the songs “Life in the Fast Lane” and “New Kid in Town.” Irving Azoff, manager of the Eagles, has described the papers as “priceless artifacts of musical history.”

Horowitz, Inciardi, and Kosinski have been accused of conspiring to have stolen property in their possession, as well as committing several other offenses.

The individuals are not accused of directly taking documents. However, it is still necessary for prosecutors to prove that the documents were indeed stolen. The defense argues that this is not the case.

Did the bargaining and transactions comply with the law?

The Eagles’ relationship with Ed Sanders, a writer and co-founder of the 1960s counterculture band the Fugs, holds significant importance. Sanders spent time in the late 1970s and early 1980s working on an officially approved biography of the Eagles, which ultimately was not released.

Sanders is not facing charges in the situation. We left a voicemail seeking his response.

He vended the pages to Horowitz, who subsequently marketed them to Inciardi and Kosinski.

Horowitz has handled huge rare book and archive deals, and he’s been entangled in some ownership spats before. One involved papers linked to “Gone With the Wind″ author Margaret Mitchell. It was settled.

Inciardi collaborated on prominent displays for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, located in Cleveland. Kosinski serves as a key member of Gotta Have It! Collectibles, recognized for selling off famous individuals’ personal belongings – some of which are so intimate, Madonna attempted to prevent their auction, including her latex underwear.

According to court documents from Kosinski’s legal team, Henley stated to a grand jury that he did not provide the biographer with the lyrics. However, lawyers for the defense have indicated their intention to investigate Henley’s recollection of the incident.

Attorney Scott Edelman stated in court last week that they believe Mr. Henley willingly shared the lyrics with Mr. Sanders.

According to the indictment, Sanders informed Horowitz in 2005 that during his time writing the Eagles book, he received any necessary documents from Henley’s residence in Malibu, California.

In 2012, Kosinski’s company put some pages up for sale through an auction. Henley’s lawyers approached them, and according to the indictment, Horowitz, Inciardi, and Sanders discussed different explanations for the origin of the manuscripts.

Sanders stumbled upon the pages in a backstage dressing room in one version of the story. In other versions, he received them from a stage assistant or gathered them from various sources related to the Eagles. In another account, he acquired them from Frey, with Horowitz proposing that this would finally put an end to the matter in 2017. Unfortunately, Frey had passed away the previous year.

According to the indictment, in a 2012 email exchange, Horowitz mentioned to Inciardi the need for tender treatment and reassurance to ensure that Sanders does not end up in prison. This was in reference to shaping Sanders’ “explanation” into a message that could be communicated to auctioneers.

According to the indictment, Sanders either provided or approved multiple explanations, but it is uncertain what he may have communicated verbally. However, it seems that he denied the story about the dressing room.

According to the indictment, Kosinski sent an explanation, which was approved by Sanders, to Henley’s attorney. Kosinski also informed Sotheby’s auction house that the musician had no legal right to the documents and requested that they not disclose Henley’s grievances to potential buyers.

Other developments

In 2016, Sotheby’s auctioned off the lyrics to the song “Hotel California,” but later removed them from the auction when it was discovered that there were questions about the ownership. Sotheby’s is not involved in the legal case and has chosen not to provide a statement.

In 2012, Henley privately purchased draft lyrics from Gotta Have It! for $8,500 and simultaneously began filing police reports, according to records from the court.

The defense attorneys argue that instead of pursuing a civil lawsuit himself, Henley chose to find prosecutors who were enamored with him and willing to support his case.

According to court documents, the district attorney’s office collaborated closely with Henley’s legal representatives. An investigator even expressed interest in obtaining backstage passes for an Eagles concert, but was advised by a prosecutor that it was not acceptable. Kosinski’s lawyers reported this incident.

The prosecutors have rejected inquiries about their intentions, labeling them as a “conspiracy theory” rather than a valid legal defense.

According to legal documents filed last year, the defendants are the ones being put on trial, not the prosecutors.