Don Henley Files Lawsuit to Regain Ownership of ‘Hotel California’ Lyric Sheets

After a previous trial over stolen manuscripts came to an abrupt halt in March, Don Henley has filed a lawsuit to recover those personal Eagles sheets, which contain the lyrics to “Hotel California” and other hits.

In his new suit, the Eagles frontman is seeking a declaratory judgment affirming his ownership over roughly 100 pages of his personal and handwritten lyric sheets. Those sheets were the subject of an indictment against three men in July 2022, with a trial that began in late February but ceased weeks later after prosecution dropped its case against the defendants upon discovering “damaging” fresh disclosures.

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“Don Henley has filed suit today in a New York federal court for return of property that was stolen from him — his private handwritten notes and lyrics to the iconic songs from the Hotel California album,” said Henley’s attorney, Daniel Petrocelli, in a statement to Variety. “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.”

The lyric sheets at the focus of the suit are currently in possession of the New York County District Attorney, which was investigating how defendants Edward Kosinski and Craig Inciardi took hold of them. In the new suit, Henley is demanding a declaration from the court that he is the sheets’ lawful owner and that they should be returned to him.

The complaint goes into detail about how Henley discovered his manuscripts had gone missing after Kosinski put up four lyric sheets for auction in 2012. Kosinski claimed that he’d gotten the pages from Ed Sanders, who the Eagles hired in 1979 to pen a book about the group that never materialized.

According to the suit, which Rolling Stone first reported, Sanders held on to Henley’s materials and sold five pads in 2007 to book dealer Glenn Horowitz, who then sold them to Kosinski and Inciardi in 2012. In the years that followed, Kosinski and Inciardi allegedly attempted to ransom the pages back to Henley, whose representatives notified law enforcement. Subsequently, the NYPD seized roughly 100 pages from Kosinski’s home and various auctions.

“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,'” reads the complaint. “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. 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.”

In the previous trial that ended in March, Inciardi and Kosinski were listed as defendants alongside Horowitz, who is not named in the most recent suit. The defendants initially claimed that the author had acquired the documents without expectation of return, and that their purchase of the lyrics from the would-be biographer was legal.

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