Pablo Escobar is no longer-living proof of just how crazy human beings are about gaining power and wealth. It’s not just that Escobar did a figurative killing selling nose candy, or that along the way he actually killed a bunch of people. He also shows the pervasive addiction of culture to wealth, and the strange way in which even criminally rich people are somewhat idolatrous.
Only look at Business Insider’s summary of 2015: “From his humble origins, Pablo Escobar became the leader of the Medellín cartel, which controlled for 80 per cent of the global cocaine market.” Remember, the man who would be “King of Cocaine” was “the son of a poor Colombian peasant” before becoming a billionaire. Yet Business Insider almost makes him sound like the drug lords Horatio Alger, an admirable tale of successful rags-to-riches with perhaps a smattering of murder. Likewise, in 2018, Newsweek contrasted the fortune of Escobar with that of the cocaine kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, as if it mattered the ruthless assassin was stronger in the illegal drug trade.
With all that in mind, we’re here to reinforce that very strangeness by delving into Escobar’s fortune, his estimated value when he died, and how much that money today would be worth.
Looking at the huge fortune of Escobar, it is important to give a few caveats, the biggest of which is that drug lords are operating in mysterious ways because their company is illegal. So, there’s no way to be sure about earnings from Pablo Escobar. He even resorted to keeping it in warehouses, cartel leaders ‘ homes, and agricultural areas, because he couldn’t just bring all his cash into banks like a normal person. Some of that money was consumed or killed in water by rats, causing the drug lord to write off an estimated 10 per cent of his assets annually.
Even with dirty rats chewing its dirty bread, Escobar was covered in filthiness. He smuggled up 15 tons of cocaine into the U.S. daily in his heyday. While he was running from police, he had so much cash on hand that when his daughter was hypothermic he literally burned $2 million. The man also owned a personal zoo now infamous for copulating hippos with the ability to be deadly— but perhaps not as deadly as Pablo Escobar, who killed as many as 7,000 people in his lifetime, per CBS.
Escobar met his own violent death in 1993 when a failed attempt to escape his hideaway fatally shot him. Taken out in dramatic fashion while scurrying over a rooftop, when he died, Escobar was worth as much as $30 billion. That would add up to over $53 billion in 2019, according to the Dollar Times.
10 Facts expose Pablo Escobar’s absurdity of wealth
The “King of Cocaine” was the son of a poor Colombian farmer but he was one of the richest men in the world by the time he was 35 years old.
Despite his humble origins, Pablo Escobar became the Medellín cartel leader, which accounted for 80 per cent of the global cocaine market.
“El Patron” took in sales of an estimated $420 million a week, making him one of the richest drug lords of all time.
While it is impossible to verify Escobar’s wealth because of the existence of drug money, figures run as high as $30 billion.
- In the mid-1980s, Escobar’s empire took in an estimated $420 million a week, totaling nearly $22 billion annually.
- Escobar made seven years straight to the Forbes ‘ list of world billionaires, from 1987 to 1993. He was elected seventh-richest man in the world in 1989.
- He delivered 80 per cent of the world’s cocaine by the end of the 1980s.
- Every day he smuggled about 15 tons of cocaine into the US.
The Medellín cartel smuggled most of its cocaine straight over the Florida coast, according to journalist Ioan Grillo.
“It was a nine-hundred-mile run from the north coast of Colombia and it was literally wide open. Colombians and their American counterparts would airdrop tons of blows to sea, from where they would dive ashore in speedboats, or even fly it right onto the mainland of Florida and let it smash into the countryside,” Grillo wrote.
- 5. In other words, four out of five of the Americans doing cocaine were snorting lines given by “El Patron.”
- 6. The “King of Cocaine” factored in a monthly profit loss of $2.1 billion but that didn’t really matter.
The immense wealth of Escobar became troublesome when he could not launder his cash fast enough. According to Roberto Escobar, chief accountant of the cartel, and brother of the kingpin, in his book “The Accountant’s Story: Inside the Violent World of the Medellín Cartel, he resorted to stashing piles of cash in Colombian agricultural areas, dilapidated factories, and in the walls of cartel leaders ‘ homes.
7. And every month he spent $2,500 on rubber bands.
While one issue was hiding or losing the exorbitant amount of money, the brothers faced another, more basic problem: arranging the banknotes smoothly.
The Medellín cartel spent an estimated $2,500 a month on rubber bands needed to hold bill stacks together, according to Roberto Escobar.
8.He started a $2 million fire once, because his daughter was cold.
In a 2009 interview with the magazine Don Juan, Escobar’s son, Juan Pablo, 38— who has since changed his name to Sebastián Marroquí-n— clarified what life on the run with the King of Cocaine was like.
According to Marroquí-n, when Escobar’s daughter, Manuela, was hypothermic, the family lived in a hideout in the Medellín mountainside.
Escobar decided to keep her dry by torching $2 million in crisp banknotes.
9.After handing out cash to the needy, constructing housing for the homeless, building 70 community soccer fields and building a zoo, he was dubbed “Robin Hood”
10.He cut a deal to imprison Colombia, but he designed and named “La Catedral”— the cathedral in a luxurious jail.
In 1991, Escobar was incarcerated in his self-designed jail, which he called “La Catedral.” In terms of his deal with the Colombian government, Escobar was entitled to choose who was imprisoned with him and who served in prison. He was also able to continue operating his cartel business and welcome tourists.
La Catedral was complete with a soccer field, barbecue pit and patios, and another compound he had built for his family was nearby. The Colombian authorities were also not permitted to enter within 3 miles of his prison.