Don Henley Files Lawsuit to Recover Original ‘Hotel California’ Manuscript

Don Henley lawsuit manuscript
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Don Henley lawsuit manuscript
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Photo Credit: Steve Alexander / CC by 2.0

Eagles singer Don Henley has filed a lawsuit in New York to recover his original handwritten ‘Hotel California’ notes and song lyrics after prosecutors dropped criminal charges against three collectibles dealers accused of plotting to sell the manuscript.

Eagles co-founder and singer Don Henley, who maintains that his handwritten notes and song lyrics from the band’s Hotel California album were stolen, has filed a lawsuit in Manhattan to recover the documents. The civil complaint follows prosecutors abruptly dropping criminal charges in March during a trial against three collectibles dealers accused of plotting to sell the documents.

According to the lawsuit, the handwritten manuscript remains in the custody of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office. Henley had promised 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 dealer Edward Kosinski.

“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,” wrote Henley’s lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli. “Henley now seeks the return of these lyric sheets from the DANY under New York law, which requires him to provide ‘satisfactory proof of his title.’”

“Because Kosinski and Inciardi have also claimed title over Henley’s lyric sheets, the issue must be decided in a civil court with appropriate jurisdiction,” the complaint reads. “Henley therefore seeks a declaration from this Court that he is the lawful owner of his seized lyric sheets to provide the ‘satisfactory proof of his title’ that will facilitate the District Attorney’s return of his property.”

“Don Henley is desperate to rewrite history,” said Kosinski’s lawyer, Shawn Crowley, who, alongside Inciardi’s lawyer, Stacey Richman, has called the new lawsuit “baseless.” Both attorneys note the criminal case against the men was dropped after the presiding judge determined that Henley had misled prosecutors by withholding information. “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.”

Before the criminal case was dropped, the men’s attorneys asserted that Henley gave the manuscript to a writer decades ago for a never-published Eagles biography, and later sold the documents to Horowitz. Horowitz then sold them to Inciardi and Kosinski, who put some of the pages up for auction in 2012. Notably, Horowitz did not claim ownership of the documents and is therefore not named in the new suit.

According to Judge Curtis Farber, who presided over the case back in February, witnesses and their lawyers used attorney-client privilege “to obfuscate and hide information that they believed would be damaging.” Prosecutors were “apparently manipulated” and defense lawyers were “blindsided” by over 6,000 pages of communications between Henley and his attorneys and associates. Those pages were evidently only made available to the court after Henley and his lawyers made a last-minute decision to waive their attorney-client privilege.