Pablo Escobar’s Hidden Treasure

February 1st, 2016

On January 19, 2016, the pink water-front mansion on Miami Beach once owned by the 1980s Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar was demolished. Built in 1948, the 6,500 square foot, the four-bedroom mansion would have been quite unassuming for the “King of Cocaine” who at the pinnacle of his career was one of the richest men in the world. Authorities speculate the property was used as a hideout for members of the Medellín cartel, and to smuggle cocaine. Escobar was shot and killed by police in 1993 in Colombia.

In 1987, the property was seized by the U.S. government, and the home is now owned by Chicken Kitchen founder and CEO Christian de Berdouare and his wife, journalist Jennifer Valoppi. After purchasing the home, the couple hired professional treasure hunters and a documentary film crew to search the property for any mementos left behind by Escobar’s cartel. Holes were found punched in the walls of the mansion, and treasure hunters speculate that someone may have been searching for some hidden treasure long forgotten by the drug traffickers.

One week before the home was scheduled for demolition, a handyman discovered that thieves had stolen a 10-inch round metal safe previously hidden under a staircase in the home. Federal law enforcement officials warned the couple that individuals previously affiliated with Escobar might return to the house looking for souvenirs from the cartel’s heyday.

Workers demolishing the home recently excavated a second metal safe hidden under the mansion’s foundation. The safe is locked and its contents are still a mystery. The safe will be stored in a bank vault, where it will stay until the property owners decide to open it. They plan to unlock it after Jennifer Valoppi’s documentary on the history of the mansion is completed. 

-Ursa Gil

A Fond Farewell: Buildings Demolished in 2015

January 14th, 2016

It's out with the old and in with the new. As 2016 kicks off, a multitude of new real estate mega projects are already poised to further change Miami's skyline. As the city grows, developers continue to tear down some of Miami's older buildings to make way for new ones. Learning From Miami remembers some of the city's most iconic buildings demolished in 2015 Read More...

Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Child of the Sun”

October 30th, 2015

Florida Central College campus. Photo courtesy of the State Archives of Florida. Central Florida is known as "The Theme Park Capital of the World", but did you know that one of America’s most famous architects designed a college campus there? Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida is home to the largest collection of buildings designed by celebrated architect Frank Lloyd Wright Read More...

Former Miami Museum of Science Returns to its Roots

October 9th, 2015 Nearly thirty five years before the Museum of Science was established across from Villa Vizcaya, business mogul James Deering built a functioning community to serve his residence. Located across from Vizcaya, the village included a large farm and a greenhouse that grew food and plants for the estate Read More...

Sunshine Fashions: Miami’s Rag Trade

September 11th, 2015

Photo taken by Amy San Pedro.  Ever notice the lone sign on the corner of Biscayne and 29th Street that marks Miami’s Fashion District? Follow the sign (use your internal map) and you will end up in Wynwood, now a mecca for street artists and new development. At one time, however, the warehouses of Wynwood housed designers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, all devoted to Miami’s leading industries -- fashion and apparel Read More...

Then and Now: Florida Roadside Attractions

August 31st, 2015

Writer and history consultant Sylvia Gurinsky presents a “guided tour” to vanished Miami places called “Once There Was A Place” with historic footage from the Wolfson Archives. Gurinsky will present this event free of charge at the Miami Center for Architecture & Design (MCAD) 100 NE 1st Ave, Miami, FL 33132  at 7:00 PM on September 9 Read More...

Cracker Style Revival

August 10th, 2015 During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, large-scale commercial agriculture, especially cattle-raising, grew in Florida. New settlers looking for work arrived from Georgia and came with few provisions. They needed to erect shelter swiftly and inexpensively Read More...

Morris Lapidus: An Architecture of Joy

July 17th, 2015

  [caption id="attachment_2944" align="aligncenter" width="200"] Morris Lapidus. Photo courtesy of the[/caption]  Morris Lapidus’ iconic buildings have helped make Miami Beach the glamorous city that it is. His glitziest constructions--the Fontainebleau, Americana and Eden Roc hotels--have been and still are playgrounds for the rich and famous Read More...

The Bygone Era of Cabarets and Supper Clubs

June 22nd, 2015

For a brief period, cabaret entertainers were the cat's meow of nightclub entertainment. Between the 1940's and 1960's, elegant ladies in elaborate costumes performed synchronized dance routines for nightclub patrons. During the late 1960's this form of nighttime entertainment fell out of fashion, and clubs of this type closed their doors Read More...

Riding With the Tamiami Trail Blazers

May 27th, 2015

[caption id="attachment_2845" align="aligncenter" width="322"] Aerial view if the Tamiami Trail. Photo courtesy of  the State Archives of Florida.[/caption] The Tamiami Trail has had a far-reaching impact on Florida's history and development. At the start of the 20th century, personal automobiles were speedily gaining popularity Read More...