Category: Mexico

The Digest. 10.11.10.


Cocoon, by Kate Browne, in Mexico City. Part of a series of public cocoon sculptures she has constructed in various locations around the world. See the building of the Mexico City project here. (Image courtesy of Browne.)

The Digest. 03.24.10.


Nos han asesinado, by Arte Jaguar in Oaxaca, Mexico, 2004. (Photo by C-M.)

Narchitecture: Real deal edition.

Casa de Arturo Durazo
El Partenón: This splendid piece of hillside real estate once belonged to a former Mexico City Police Chief and alleged drug trafficker. (Image courtesy of Alain García Gómez.)

Several years ago, my friend Bruce went birding in the hillsides above Zihuatanejo, on Mexico’s southern coast, and ended up stumbling into an abandoned narco-mansion. It had belonged to Arturo “El Negro” Durazo, a former Mexico City police chief (during the regime of López Portillo in the ‘70s) who was well known for maintaining a high-profile, high-rent lifestyle he couldn’t possibly afford on a government salary. The design of his expansive Zihuatanejo mansion (there were others) was inspired by the Greek Parthenon and contained, among other things, murals of battles, a full-blown discotheque (allegedly a replica of Studio 54), lots of jacuzzis and bedrooms with mirrored ceilings.

In the early 80s, Durazo ended up getting chased out of his job and was eventually arrested in Puerto Rico. He was charged, in Mexico, with smuggling, illegal arms possession and tax evasion, and was eventually convicted on some of the charges (but it is unclear from the clips I’ve read, which ones). For all the flagrant corruption, Durazo only ended up doing half a dozen years of jail time. During this time, however, his Zihuatanejo mansion was taken over by the municipality, and when Bruce found it, it lay unused and abandoned.

Bruce, unfortunately, wasn’t carrying a camera when he found the place, so there was no visual evidence of his adventure. With a bit of careful Googling, however, we managed to find an incredible blog post by Alain García Gómez on El Partenón, as the house is known, that contains an informative report, as well as a bunch of photos.

Bruce was excited to find the photos because he would finally have hard evidence that this place existed. I was thrilled because the pictures of this real-live narco-mansion proved that when a friend and I cooked up our theories of narchitecture last year, we were spot on in just about every description: Durazo’s house is massive. It has an abundance of Classical columns and gobs of Roman-style statuary. And in its day, I imagine that it also featured plenty of lithe young women in thong bikinis.

Further reading:
El Universal.
El Mundo.
Proceso.
Wikimaps.

Posted by C-Monster.