Rare book dealer charged after The Pilfered Eagles lyrics were revealed

In the late 1970s, as the Southern California Eagles sailed to rock stardom, one of the band’s main songwriters generated tons of lyrics and handwritten notes – among them the lyrics of staples of FM radio like “Hotel California”.

And then the papers disappeared.

Nearly five decades later, Glenn Horowitz, a New York rare book dealer, and two other men were charged in Manhattan state Supreme Court on Tuesday with conspiring to sell about 100 pages of the stolen notes. written by songwriter, Don Henley, lie to law enforcement authorities and fabricate stories about the provenance of the papers, which are valued at approximately $1 million.

“This action exposes the truth about sales of highly personal stolen item music memorabilia hidden behind a facade of legitimacy,” said Irving Azoff, Mr. Henley’s manager. “No one has the right to sell illegally obtained goods or profit from the outright theft of irreplaceable pieces of musical history.”

Among the accused are Mr Horowitz, 66, who helped create a frothy market in writers’ archives, by organizing the value of binders of manuscripts, drafts, letters and ephemera into a cohesive, salable whole . He placed the papers of Norman Mailer, Gabriel García Márquez, Tom Wolfe, Alice Walker and others in major university libraries, and brokered major deals with musicians: In 2016 he sold the extensive archive of Bob Dylan to two Oklahoma institutions for an estimated $20 million.

Lawyers for Mr Horowitz and the other defendants, Craig Inciardi, 58, and Edward Kosinski, 59, have denied the charges.

“The district attorney’s office is alleging crime where there is none and unfairly tarnishing the reputations of highly respected professionals,” the attorneys said in a statement. “These men are innocent.

A lawyer for Mr Inciardi added that the men surrendered and were released on their own recognizance.

The indictment is a stunning turn for Mr. Horowitz, a stalwart of New York’s rare book and manuscript market, known for blending keen business acumen with deep literary knowledge and showman’s flair.

A visit to his Midtown Manhattan office with its terrace overlooking the sculpture garden of the Museum of Modern Art might offer a glimpse of a choice historical letter or a jaw-dropping literary artifact – complete with a comment that the visit was confidential.

“As Glenn says himself, he’s a terrific combination of scholar and trickster,” Rick Gekoski, a bookseller in London who regularly did business with Horowitz, told The New York Times in 2007.

The core notes announced on Tuesday are the lyrical backbone of what would become one of the most recognizable and ubiquitous albums of the 1970s. The Eagles made music that was inspired by the blues and country rock, but which was steeped in the peculiar malaise of Southern California in its post-hippie and pre-punk era.

Half a century after its 1976 release, the album “Hotel California” and Mr. Henley’s gnomic musings – “You can check in whenever you want, but you can never leave” – ​​have fueled endless speculation among fans on the meaning of the lyrics. The band’s ongoing world tour, on which it plays the album cover to cover with a full orchestra, has filled arenas for more than two years.

Mr. Horowitz obtained the notes from Mr. Henley in 2005, according to a press release from Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan District Attorney. The manuscripts were originally stolen from the songwriter in the late 1970s by a writer working on a book about the band, according to the statement. The liner notes include handwritten lyrics to “Hotel California”, the album’s title track.

Mr. Henley became aware of the reappearance of the banknotes when Mr. Horowitz sold them to Mr. Inciardi and Mr. Kosinski, other collectors who tried to market them further. According to the district attorney’s office, Mr. Henley filed police reports and told collectors the tickets were stolen.

“Rather than make any effort to ensure they actually had rightful ownership, the defendants responded by engaging in a year-long campaign to prevent Henley from recovering the manuscripts,” the statement read. prosecutor.

The men sought to launder the notes through Sotheby’s auction houses and engaged in a five-year effort to hide the provenance of the documents, the district attorney’s office said. Mr. Horowitz then tried to leverage the 2016 death of Glenn Frey, the Eagles’ other frontman, as possible cover, suggesting that Mr. Frey was the initial source for the newspapers, according to the press release.

Mr. Frey “alas, is dead, and identifying him as the source would make that go away once and for all,” Mr. Horowitz said in a fabricated provenance statement after the notes were seized by investigators from a warehouse of Sotheby’s, the district attorney’s office said.

Mr. Horowitz was charged with conspiracy, attempted criminal possession of stolen property and obstruction of prosecution. Mr. Inciardi and Mr. Kosinski were charged with possession of stolen property and conspiracy.

Alex Traub and Jennifer Schussler contributed report.

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