The Netflix crime thriller Narcos, which chronicles the life of former Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, has proven so popular that Netflix is airing a second season next month. But the show has made at least one powerful enemy: Roberto Escobar, the accountant for his brother's drug gang, has demanded that the company pay him $1 billion for the rights to his family's story.
Escobar, who not only ran the books for his brother's multibillion-dollar Medellin Cartel drug operation but was also in charge of its assassination squad, sent a letter to Netflix recently that was published by TMZ, asking for the right to review the second season of the hit show and to be fairly compensated from any profits.
"In the first season of Narcos, there were mistakes, lies and discrepancies from the real story," the letter says. "To this date, I am one of the few survivors of the Medellin cartel, and I was Pablo's closest ally, managing his accounting and he is my brother for life. I think nobody else in the world is alive to determine the validity of the materials, but me."
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Pablo Escobar, who was once known as "The King of Cocaine," was shot and killed by Colombian police in 1993. Roberto, who was imprisoned for his role in the drug cartel, wrote a book in 2009 called "The Accountant's Story." In the letter, he says he owns "successor-in-interest rights" to the Escobar family name.
One of the things that appears to have upset Escobar is that in the Netflix (nflx) series, the cartel's accountant—who is not portrayed as being Pablo Escobar's brother—gets fired and then claims to be a CIA informant. The character of Roberto Escobar never actually appears in the show.
Olof Gustafsson, the CEO of a company Roberto Escobar formed called Escobar Inc., told Newsweek that he tried to contact Netflix after they had registered the rights to the Escobar name last year, before the show Narcos was released, but got no response.
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"I think it is important that they recognize Roberto Escobar’s wishes to review the show they are putting out, ensuring the family and viewers of an accurate portrayal of Pablo and Roberto," Gustafsson said. In emails to Newsweek, the surviving Escobar said that if necessary he will launch a legal claim against Netflix and demand compensation as high as $1 billion.
"There should be no show about Pablo Escobar, unless it is endorsed by Escobar Inc. and signed with the authentic thumbprints of me, Olof Gustafsson and Daniel Reitberg," Escobar allegedly said. "I signed thousands of deals and oversaw hundreds of billions of dollars change hands. Trust me. This is not how business is handled. Not at all."
According to Newsweek, Escobar goes on to say that "a billion is what we used to make in a good week in the 1980s and 1990s. Apparently money is now growing on trees in favor of Netflix after my show was released. They should pay me immediately."
Escobar adds that he is seeking $1 billion in compensation, and "if they decline my offer we have attorneys ready to proceed with necessary actions" over misappropriation of the Escobar name. "I don't think there will be any more Narcos if they do not talk to me,” he says. "They are playing me without paying. I am not a monkey in a circus, I don’t work for pennies."