Riker Assists in Getting Iconic “Nudie” Suit to Its Rightful Owner Banner Image

White Collar Criminal Defense and Investigations

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Riker Assists in Getting Iconic “Nudie” Suit to Its Rightful Owner

August 8, 2023

When Chris Ethridge, bass player for country rock band the Flying Burrito Brothers, had his suit that was custom made by the famous rodeo tailor Nudie Cohen stolen from the trunk of a car, he had no idea it would take over 50 years to recover.  He also could never have imagined that Elton John would own the suit for a time and wear it as best man in Bernie Taupin’s wedding.  For all those years, Ethridge’s daughter Necia, (Chris Ethridge died in 2012) hoped she would someday get it back.  Recently, with the help of Riker Danzig White Collar Criminal Defense and Investigations partner Charles B. McKenna, the iconic suit was returned to her and enshrined in the Country Music Hall of Fame with the other three Nudie suits that were worn on the Burrito Brothers’ second album cover.

Both Rolling Stone magazine and ROI-NJ did feature articles on the recovery of the suit. ROI-NJ’s August 7, 2023 article, “One-of-a-Kind Suit, Bizarre 50-Year Tale of How it Went Missing — and How Jersey Lawyer Got it Back,” highlights Charlie’s involvement in the recovery of the stolen Nudie suit that held significant sentimental value. “I started my career as an entertainment lawyer,” Charlie said. “I did a lot of First Amendment and artist’s representation. So, I come from that world. That’s how I got a call from the manager of Wilco (an alt rock band). They asked me if I could help.”

Recognizing the challenge of proving ownership, Charlie contacted the auction house, which led to the suit's return to its rightful owner at a price below market value.  Of Necia, Charlie said, “This is a woman who lost her dad and lost a lot of his possessions,” he said. “And the suit is iconic. It was like her Holy Grail. To be able to assist her to get it back — and to see how incredibly happy it made her — was fantastic.”

“Of all of the things that I’ve accumulated in my career — all the plaques and awards — the one thing that is the most important to me is a letter that hangs on my wall which is written by a victim of a crime, thanking me for assisting her,” said Charlie. “This is similar to that. This is a woman who was really close to getting something back that meant a great deal to her. Being able to assist her in doing that in some small way is incredibly rewarding.”

Read the full ROI-NJ story here.

Rolling Stone magazine also covered the incredible journey of the suit in its July 20, 2023 article “The Bonkers Tale of the Stolen Flying Burrito Brothers Suit – And How It Was Finally Found.” Charlie is introduced in the article as a former federal prosecutor who, “although he normally doesn’t handle cases involving rock collectibles, [he] was intrigued, in part because he was a fan of Emmylou Harris.”  Emmylou Harris was the duet partner of Burrito Brothers’ lead singer and guitarist, Gram Parsons. The article credits Charlie with convincing the current owner of the suit to invite Ethridge’s daughter Necia to make an offer for the suit. The article states, “McKenna sent what he calls ‘a stern, strong demand letter’ to Taylor, making the case that U.S. law would apply because the outfit had been stolen in this country. ‘Our position was that under United States laws, we were entitled to that suit,’ he says. ‘I don’t think [the current owner] committed a crime, but I don’t think he had good title to the property.’”  Necia Ethridge’s offer was accepted, leading to the successful return of the suit and its debut at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Read Rolling Stone’s coverage of the story here.


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