The legacy of infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar has ignited a fiery dispute among his own flesh and blood, who are now squabbling – and threatening to kill – over a dazzling array of his prized possessions.
The notorious cocaine kingpin, who was shot and killed in 1993 as he attempted to flee from law enforcement on a rooftop in Medellin, was the proud owner of a jaw-dropping collection of extravagant cars, slick motorbikes, snowmobiles, high-end designer threads and even aeroplanes.
Nicolás Escobar, 53, who proudly proclaims himself ‘Don Pablo’s favourite nephew,’ believes his uncle’s possessions are now rightfully his, and is dedicated to preserving the invaluable articles by staging an exhibition.
But his very own father, Roberto Escobar, is a former accountant for the cartel. And in true narco fashion, has threatened to kill his own son if he attempts to claim the rights to Pablo’s memorabilia, according to Nicolás.
‘He [Roberto] still thinks he can do what he wants, that he’s in the mafia, that he is a boss,’ Nicolás said, pointedly addressing his father as ‘that man’ rather than ‘dad’.
In this 1983 file photo, Medellin drug cartel boss Pablo Escobar watches a soccer game in Medellin, Colombia
Harley Davidson motorcycle belonging to Pablo Escobar
The remains of an old Cessna airplane which was used by Pablo Escobar to bring drug money from Panama is displayed in the courtyard of his family museum run by Roberto Escobar, his eldest brother also known as “The Accountant” on February 13, 2019 in Medellin
Roberto Escobar looking at the photo of his brother at the entrance to the Pablo Escobar house museum
Nicolas Escobar – Pablo Escobar’s nephew
Roberto de Jesús Escobar Gaviria Roberto Escobar, brother of Pablo Escobar, at home, Medellin, Colombia
‘One day, my sister called me and told me not to try and enter [my father’s] house… If you enter, she told me, someone would kill me, because our father gave the order,’ he told The Telegraph.
For years the prized possessions of the world-famous cartel boss were on display in a museum managed by Roberto.
A rosy-hued Harley Davidson, a small private jet, a horde of rare photographs and a handgun that allegedly once graced the palm of none other than legendary American gangster Al Capone are just some of the items that were shown to the public.
Nicolás waxed poetic about the collection, calling it a treasure trove of ‘old and luxurious’ marvels that deserve their place in the limelight.
The museum was very popular with tourists flocking for a glimpse into the high-flying life of the billionaire drug lord, but it was demolished earlier this year when local government officials allegedly discovered the building was constructed without proper permission.
But others claim officials in Medellin wanted to tear down the museum in an attempt to dissociate the city from its enduring reputation for drug smuggling and violence against law enforcement.
Nicolás now wants to re-house his uncle’s collection of memorabilia in a new facility, one which would preserve the history of the Escobar legacy without glamorising it.
‘What Hollywood shows is not real… it wasn’t glamorous,’ Nicolás said.
But it’s no wonder the late Escobar amassed such a collection of rare and valuable items.
During his time at the helm of the Medellin Cartel he controlled over 80 per cent of the cocaine shipped to the US, earning him the rank of one of Forbes Magazine’s ten wealthiest people in the world.
A view from a small museum where the inhabitants of the Pablo Escobar neighbourhood collected images and the memory of the drug lord, in Medellin, Colombia on September 27, 2021
An old racing car which was reportedly Escobar’s favourite is displayed in a hall with his pictures of racing cars on the wall on February 13, 2019 in Medellin
Vehicles sit on display at the Casa Museo Pablo Escobar in Medellin, Colombia, on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017
Escobar entered the cocaine trade in the early 1970s, collaborating with other criminals to form the Medellin Cartel.
By the mid-1980s, Pablo Escobar had an estimated net worth of $30 billion and cash was so prevalent that Escobar purchased a Learjet for the sole purpose of flying his money.
More than 15 tons of cocaine were reportedly smuggled each day, netting the Cartel as much as $420 million a week.
For much of his time at the top of the narco heap, Escobar earned popularity by sponsoring charity projects and soccer clubs, sharing some of his riches with local communities and in doing so was painted as something of a Robin Hood figure.
But terror campaigns run by Escobar’s henchmen resulted in the murder of thousands, and slowly began turning the public against him – all while law enforcement agencies from the US were cooperating with Colombian police to tear down his empire.
Colombian law enforcement finally caught up to Escobar on December 2, 1993 in a middle-class neighbourhood in Medellin.
A firefight ensued and, as Escobar tried to escape across a series of rooftops, he and his bodyguard were shot and killed.