Malcolm McLaren‘s partner Young Kim has said that she believes that exposure to asbestos from the shop SEX he used to run in the ’70s caused the lung cancer that killed him.
The former Sex Pistols manager died on Thursday (April 8) after suffering from mesothelioma. Kim told the Independent that he was exposed to asbestos, which is related to the form of cancer, when making alterations to the London shop he used to run with then-partner Vivienne Westwood.
“When Malcolm created SEX he broke open the ceiling to make it look like a bomb had hit it,” she said. “I always suspected that shop because it was the only place Malcolm ever really spent any serious length of time in, and there was a lot of construction and changing things.”
She added: “Ben Westwood [Vivienne‘s son] said his mother had mentioned that she’d seen asbestos there. It was board asbestos and it was in the early ’70s so there was a lot of it left, and I don’t think anyone really did anything about it.”
Kim went on to claim that McLaren‘s illness was not diagnosed when symptoms were first noticed.
“Malcolm was freaked out,” she said. “He called me up from the doctor’s office and said, ‘Young, I have lung cancer, I have lung cancer’, but the doctor said, ‘Oh no, he’s perfectly fine, he just has these spots, they’re completely benign, you don’t have to worry about it’. Then, just a few months later, his left lung had filled with fluid and he was diagnosed with mesothelioma.”
Vivienne Westwood paid tribute to McLaren after his death, describing him as “beautiful”.
The next issue of NME, out on Wednesday (April 14), is a special tribute issue to McLaren.