“Hemingway’s Picasso” is a story that starts with four Pablo Picasso ceramic tiles that fit together like a puzzle. This podcast raced to fit the figurative pieces together and answer questions. How did Picasso’s ceramic become a drug run souvenir that wound up in a legendary Floridian’s possession in the 1980s? And is this piece authentic?
We know, this sounds like local lore, but this is just one part of the unbelievable stories investigated in Somethin’ Else’s “Hemingway’s Picasso,” hosted by Leah Carroll. The twists this story takes are unpredictable. And so is the mythology behind the podcast’s main character, Steve Kough, in an attempt to trace his stories.
Kough was a legend with many identities in the 1980s. The guy was supposedly an NFL player, model, art connoisseur, father, and the life of every party. It was said Steve ran with the drug smuggling crowd in Miami, Florida, working with kingpin Pablo Escobar. While in prison, Kough was introduced to one of Escobar’s cohorts and joined the cartel.
Kough snagged many drug run souvenirs over the years, but none was as memorable as Picasso’s tile, nicknamed “Fred and Betty” for the man and woman pictured. Kough was allegedly stuck with the ceramic after a drug deal in Cuba. He learned Picasso’s tile was previously gifted to Hemingway by the artist at his Cuban home. Listeners learn that the tile allegedly went missing from Hemingway’s home during the Cuban Revolution.
After Kough’s death in 2018, his son, Stevie, inherited the ceramic. Stevie wanted to sell the ceramic and share his father’s story. This podcast tries to unpack the illicit web Kough was involved in, his drug smuggling operations, ties to the art world, and connecting Picasso’s tile to Ernest Hemingway.
In “Hemingway’s Picasso,” we learn of Kough’s romance with a Miami Dolphins cheerleader, additional sketchy dealings leading to arrests, and running with the Detroit Mafia. He once slathered himself in vaseline to sneak through a museum’s air vent to steal art. Carroll interviews Steve’s son, Stevie, a cannabis grower in California. Listeners also hear from Steve’s daughter, Jamie, about what it was like being raised by a drug smuggler.
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