Of all the adjectives used to describe him, Robert Vesco – who has died at 72 – was happiest with “financier”. For the son of an Italian immigrant carworker in Detroit, the word had an exotic ring and he did not like to be called a crook, conman, fugitive, mobster, swindler or international drug dealer.
I thnk this is the same Phil Davison who was was shot in the arse on behalf of the Independent in Dubrovnik during the war. I had quite forgotten Vesco, and did not know that Castro had jailed him, though Nixon took bribes from him. Davison has one further anecdote worth repeating:
In 1995, I went to Havana to try to interview Vesco in jail. I failed, but found his partner in the pharmaceutical enterprise, Donald M. Nixon, widely known as Don Don, who happened to be a nephew of the former US president.
Proudly showing me a custom-made Havana cigar in the shape of a large penis, complete with testicles, Don Don told me: “Bob [Vesco] is the most brilliant man I’ve ever met”. Speaking of the drug TX, which got Vesco jailed, Mr Nixon insisted it would have been “the biggest story ever, the biggest breakthrough in the history of man, changing the total social and economic structure of the world . . . worth $10m a month net”.
Just think what Don Don could have made of the internet.