The Mystery Behind Led Zeppelin's Hotel Robbery

Legendary kings of rock, Led Zeppelin, have an arsenal of exhilarating anecdotes that embody the spirit of debauchery and life in the rock 'n' roll fast lane. Throughout the course of their legacy, the band has witnessed things that even the most decadent and unruly of characters can't say they've seen. Once upon a time, drummer John Bonham traversed the hallways of a hotel mounted on the back of his motorcycle. Jimmy Page once appeared before a roomful of groupies clad in nothing but tactfully applied dollops of whipped cream covering certain parts of his body. Then there's the infamous mud shark incident in which a fish pulled from the canal outside their hotel room window allegedly played a pivotal role in a rather obscene sex act (via Society of Rock).

However, some of the band's stories aren't much to boast about. In the midst of the foggy haze that arises from all the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, one is bound to be caught off guard. Misfortunes follow a lack of awareness, though it's tough to say exactly what caused over $200,000 to disappear from the group's hotel deposit box. The details surrounding the mysterious disappearance of such a large sum of money remain disturbingly shrouded to this day. What could have gone wrong on that day in 1973 when a small fortune was heisted from under the rockstars' noses?

Led Zeppelin were robbed of $200,000

On July 29, 1973, Led Zeppelin were staying at the Drake Hotel in New York City while on tour. It was around 7:30 p.m. when Zeppelin road manager Richard Cole went to check on a big chunk of cash stashed in their hotel deposit box. To his utter dismay, instead of the $200,000 that had allegedly been stored in the box all that he found were five passports. After an emergency press conference and the commencement of an austere police investigation, the hunt for the culprit was on (per Far Out Magazine). 

Being that Cole was the only one who had access to the box, he became the focal point of the investigation. "He was interrogated and fingerprinted. Cole also said that he had taken and passed a lie detector test. Nevertheless, he remained a primary suspect, as did a bellman." Author Bob Spitz shared in "Led Zeppelin: The Biography." Despite the scandal that the press was calling "the largest-ever hotel cash robbery in New York City," the members of Led Zeppelin were hardly distressed. To them, $200,000 was a mere trifle and would hardly dent their already massive fortune. Nonetheless, the hunt for the crook persisted, according to the New York Post

Some suspected Peter Grant of the robbery

There was no sign of forced entry, so whoever took the money was presumed to have had direct access to the deposit safe, according to Far Out Magazine. There were only two keys to the box: one held by the desk clerk and the one in Richard Cole's possession. While sights were primarily set on Cole, there were various sources that postulated Peter Grant's direct involvement. Grant was Led Zeppelin's main manager, and while such a treacherous betrayal seemed unlikely, it wasn't out of the realm of possibility. 

Author Bob Spitz shared that there were various conversations with those alleging Grant's direct involvement in the scandal. He writes in his book "Led Zeppelin: The Biography" that "no less than five sources close to the band told this author that Grant had admitted spiriting the Drake money away." As KLOS writes, the truth of the matter still evades investigators, and the Led Zeppelin hotel robbery of 1973 remains to this day one of the biggest question marks in rock 'n' roll history.