An auctioneer who’d been approached to sell 13 pages of Don Henley’s handwritten lyrics for “Hotel California” said he’d expected the transaction to raise at least $700,000 – giving each page a value of around $54,000.

Those pages – and hundreds like them from the EaglesHotel California era – are the subject of a criminal trial, with author Ed Sanders accused of trying to sell them when they remained the band members’ property.

The New York State Supreme Court case aims to decide if Craig Inciardi, Edward Kosinski and Glenn Horowitz were entitled to sell the documents. If the court decides against them, the trio could face jail sentences of up to four years.

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Former Christie’s executive Tom Lecky told the court he’d been approached by Inciardi in 2016 with a view to the auction house managing the sale. He described the 13 pages as being in good condition, with the words “Hotel Calif” at the top of one and the word “colitas” elsewhere. “What is it and what did it mean?” Lecky said (via Rolling Stone). “It was a great early version [of the song], working out ideas. It was very exciting.”

After agreeing to the sale, he began researching the potential value and concluded the 13 pages could be worth “in excess” of $700,000. He added that he’d based the price on Christie’s having recently sold Don McLean’s “American Pie” pages for over $1 million.

The manuscripts expert explained the market could be “incredibly suspicious” and therefore providence was especially important. He discovered that Inciardi and Kosinki had bought the papers from Sanders, who’d been hired by the Eagles to write an official biography.

“Having someone work on a book made me think, ‘Okay, they have access to papers,’” Lecky said, but that didn’t mean Sanders owned them. Perceiving a “potential risk,” Christie’s took legal advice and then declined to proceed with the sale.

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Before Lecky took the stand, Eagles manager Irving Azoff gave his own testimony regarding Sanders’ book, which was shelves in the early ‘80s after the band didn’t like what had been written.

A recording of a call between Azoff and Sanders was played to the court, in which the manager said: “Ed, you’ve been wonderful. The book is going to come out – it’s just that I have a pampered rock star here… It’s going to come out when God Henley says it can. Now it’s up to God.”

Asked who he’d meant when he’d called one of the Eagles a “pampered rock star,” Azoff replied: “Probably all of them!”

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