The news flashed across my social media feed and I barely raised an eyebrow.
Spanish Press were reporting the murder of a 49-year-old Spaniard who had businesses in Puerto Banus, gunned down outside his house in the early hours. Police were quoted as saying that the killing was a suspected ‘settling of scores’.
‘Here we go again’, I thought to myself, scanning the report and making notes for a post in my blog later that day, ‘another baby gangster getting what was coming to him’.
I didn’t really think too much about it until a friend called. ‘This shooting in San Pedro’ he said ‘I think it might be Marco’. I told him that I would check my contacts and see what I could find out.
A text message came back minutes later. It was Marco. “F**k” I said under my breath.
As a Marbella based freelance journalist for the past 20 years, I have written about every aspect of life in this colourful, cosmopolitan and often chaotic town- the good, the bad and the sometimes very ugly. I have occasionally worked with international TV and Radio reporting on crime stories, including gang feuds, shootings and drug busts, and even contributed the Marbella chapter of a Dutch book, ‘World of Crime’. In the past year the blog has reported on a marked increase in violent crime.
But it all seemed abstract, the victims two-dimensional.
I’ve known Marco for over ten years. As a business partner of the massively successful group that runs TIBU nightclub, Lineker’s and Portside, Babilonia and Bijou, as well as many other popular establishments, he was an instantly recognisable figure in Banus. Marco was one of the earliest and most loyal supporters of ‘Hot Marbella Magazine’, which I edit.
While some in Banus act as if they are in a real life version of ‘The Sopranos’, Marco was always approachable and great fun. He loved the Marbella lifestyle – complete with luxury cars and designer clothes – but he was a shrewd businessman, as more than a decade at the very top of the Banus bar and nightlife scene proved. Behind the extroverted, party-loving exterior was a person who took time out to talk to everyone, testament to the outpouring of social media tributes that have flooded in since the news. Even my barber told me about the time Marco sat and talked with him when he was just in his teens.
I last saw Marco when I was eating in a frontline restaurant with friends, he drove past, top down in the Bentley, shades on, (of course) saw our group and stopped to shoot the breeze. He seemed genuinely pleased to see us and drove off with that big smile of his, busy taking a call, off to another meeting.
That’s how I’ll remember him.
Rest well Marco. Your friends already miss you. You really were the Prince of Puerto Banus.