Video produced by TRD video reporter Alistair Gardiner
Camera crews swarmed the former home of drug lord Pablo Escobar on Tuesday morning as construction workers began demolishing the waterfront pink home.
Home owners Christian de Berdouaré and Jennifer Valoppi spoke about the property’s incriminating history, including a safe that had been stolen within the last month. “Before we even got a chance to look at it, it was stolen,” Valoppi said. “We were hoping to get it back, but it does not look like it will be recovered.”
De Berdouaré, founder of the Chicken Kitchen restaurant chain, will redevelop the 33,000-square-foot lot at 5860 North Bay Road into a modern multimillion-dollar mansion. At the center of the property is a massive Banyan tree, which de Berdouaré and Valoppi said will remain, at least for now. “I’m trying to do everything I can to keep the tree and design the house around it,” he told The Real Deal.
Escobar, who was also known as the “King of Cocaine,” reportedly used the home as a residence and as base for his drug operation. He paid $760,000 in cash for the property in 1980, according to Miami-Dade County property records, and it was seized by the federal government in 1987. Roger and Leslie Schindler later owned it, before de Berdouaré and Valoppi bought it in May 2014 for $9.65 million.
At the demolition, which will be a part of a documentary about the home that the owners are producing, Valoppi said crews have been looking for hidden walls and any other evidence of Escobar’s past.
De Berdouaré told TRD that one of three properties they own on North Bay Road will be completed in about a month. The resort-style mansion at 5004 North Bay Road hit the market last year for $35.9 million.
It’s unclear whether they will live at the new home. “This thing is going to disappear and then we’re going to have a beautiful house,” de Berdouaré said.