Bono’s stolen briefcase returned after 23 years

Readers should know something about U2log.com: We are damn good at being discreet. Almost a year ago, one of U2log.com’s editors was contacted by Danielle Rheaume from Olympia, Washington (now a Vancouver resident), who claimed a friend of hers, Cindy Harris, had found some “interesting U2 material” in the attic of her Tacoma home. Harris had found the material when she and her husband purchased the home many years earlier and had forgotten about it. Last year, however, Harris brought up her discovery in a conversation with her friend Rheaume, who is a U2 fan.

When Rheaume heard what her friend had in her attic, she was astonished because she recognized exactly what it was: the contents of Bono’s briefcase that had been stolen 23 years earlier in Portland.

The saga of the stolen briefcase is well known within U2 fan circles. It contained lyrics for U2’s second album ‘October’, and disappeared when U2 played a club in Portland in 1981. The theft influenced the making of the U2’s crucial second album, as Bono had to rewrite from scratch. Over the years, Bono’s briefcase has become the Holy Grail of U2 mythology. Only recently a U2log.com reader commented how finding it would be ‘quite the story’.

This is the story. Rheaume contacted U2log.com to help her and her friend get in touch with U2’s management so the two could return the material to Bono in person. Knowing that anyone would find their claim unbelievable, we asked for photographic evidence to provide to U2’s management and received the photos that are published with this report.


The contents of the briefcase–which itself is lost (that is, only the contents were found and returned)–include a visa for the USA in the name of “Paul Hewson,” notebooks and lyric sheets, letters to Bono from Ali, letters from fans, tour documents, letters from Bono to journalist Paul Morley, photos, and contact sheets.

When U2log.com contacted U2’s management, they were as astonished as we were to see the photos and hear the story of the discovery. Attempts to schedule a return of the contents to Bono went unfulfilled for months because of Bono’s commitments to DATA and work on U2’s new album. The scheduling of Bono’s appearance in Portland for the World Council Affairs International Speaker Series apparently offered the perfect opportunity for all involved to meet up and the material to be returned.

In his speech in Portland’s Rose Garden Arena Wednesday evening, Bono thanked the two women for returning the material.

U2log.com is happy to have played a small part in Bono’s receipt of the lost material. We are now moving on to matching other items in our “Lost and Found” department to their rightful owners. We have a couple of CDs, one mysteriously labeled “HTDAAB – Edge,” a set of master tapes labelled “AB,” and a barely used Powerbook. If you know to whom they belong, please contact us.