Pablo Escobar’s once-opulent Colombian vacation home was demolished this week, 21 years after the drug lord’s death.
The 20-room mansion, complete with a private runway for Escobar’s cocaine planes, was one of the main tourist draws at a theme park that now covers much of the drug dealer’s former estate of Hacienda Napoles. It was also a derelict reminder of the drug dealer’s rapid rise and fall.
In a statement released Wednesday, theme park managers said they demolished the semi-ruined mansion before the whole thing collapsed on its own, potentially pinning tourists under its rubble.
Apparently, the former architect of Colombia's drug world was rather careless about the architecture of his own home.
“The structure lacked iron beams. Weight points were not well distributed and there was a lack of tie beams [to hold walls together]," reads a release from the park."These pathologies were later complemented by abandonment, rain, the actions of looters and the inevitable passing of time.”
When Escobar lived here in the 1980s, the vacation home hosted corrupt Colombian politicians, aspiring beauty queens, and well-known musicians who were flown in from all over the hemisphere to entertain the kingpin.
But the mansion quickly fell into disrepair after Escobar’s death in 1994. The roof collapsed, the home was looted, and trees roots consumed the walls. At night, thieves often broke into the property to dig around its foundations in hopes of finding buried loot and weapons.
When Escobar’s estate became a theme park eight years ago, workers cleared the tropical vegetation that had swallowed the mansion and converted the building into a museum with exhibits of the drug dealer’s life.
But the place wasn't maintained. Colombian officials argued it had no cultural value and were loath to spend taxpayers' money on repairs.
Still, even without the narco-mansion, remnants of Escobar's extravagant lifestyle can still be found on his old estate.
A herd of 50 hippos, the offspring of four animals bought in the 1980s for Escobar's personal zoo, still roam the area. There’s also a former bullring and a replica of one of the planes that Escobar used to smuggle cocaine to the United States.
Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.