The trial involving the handwritten lyrics to The Eagles‘ classic song ‘Hotel California’ has begun in New York, with the opening statements set to be heard today (Wednesday, February 21).

Back in 2022, Glenn Horowitz, Edward Kosinski and Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame curator Craig Inciardi were accused of attempting to sell handwritten notes and lyrics from the 1977 single, as well as its follow-up ‘Life In The Fast Lane’.

Officials at the time estimated that the documents – written by Eagles co-founder Don Henley – were worth over $1million (£792,000) in total. The pieces were stolen in the 1970s, and Henley has been trying to recover them for years.

It is claimed that they were pawned off to Horowitz – a rare book dealer – in 2005. Horowitz, Inciardi and memorabilia seller Kosinski then allegedly began selling to various auction houses, as well as trying to coerce Henley into buying them back.

The three men have each pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and various other charges, per Associated Press. Their lawyers have claimed that the case “alleges criminality where none exists and unfairly tarnishes the reputations of well-respected professionals”.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office is expected to call Henley as its star witness when the trial gets underway. Prosecutors will need to prove that the documents were stolen.

The Eagles are said to have allowed writer Ed Sanders to access their archives when he began working on a biography for the band in the late ’70s. He later sold the notepad to Mr Horowitz for $50,000 (£39,609) in 2005.

According to Henley, he never gave Sanders the lyrics. The latter was not charged in the case. Defence lawyers have suggested otherwise, however, and questioned Henley’s version of events.

“We believe that Mr Henley voluntarily provided the lyrics to Mr Sanders,” attorney Scott Edelman said in court last week.

The Eagles
The Eagles. CREDIT: Roberto Ricciuti/Redferns

The defendants have decided to forgo a jury, and Judge Curtis Farber will decide the verdict instead.

Inciardi was suspended from his role at the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame following the accusations in 2022.

In a statement at the time (via Rolling Stone), The Eagles’ manager Irving Azoff said: “This action exposes the truth about music memorabilia sales of highly personal, stolen items hidden behind a facade of legitimacy.

“No one has the right to sell illegally obtained property or profit from the outright theft of irreplaceable pieces of musical history. These handwritten lyrics are an integral part of the legacy Don Henley has created over the course of his 50-plus-year career.”

Last month saw The Eagles announce two extra final UK shows to ‘The Long Goodbye’ Manchester farewell residency. You can find any remaining tickets here.

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