McLaren, who died last week from cancer, may have come into contact with the deadly material while ripping down the ceiling of Sex, his infamous clothes store on London’s King’s Road.
The 64-year-old had vandalised the shop, from which he spawned British punk with then partner Dame Vivienne Westwood, because he wanted it to look “like a bomb had hit it”.
But he accidentally demolished some asbestos sheeting and could have been exposed to dangerous particles for several years during the 1970s, Young Kim, his partner of 12 years, said.
Kim, 38, told the Independent on Sunday: “When Malcolm created Sex he broke open the ceiling to make it look like a bomb had hit it.
“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.
“Then Ben Westwood 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.”
McLaren died on Thursday in a Swiss clinic after a lengthy battle with mesothelioma, a form of cancer usually caused by exposure to asbestos.
Kim said that doctors noticed signs of the disease almost two years ago during a routine scan but dismissed spots on his lungs as benign.
She said McLaren was convinced he had lung cancer but was repeatedly told he was fine until last year when his left lung filled with fluid and he was diagnosed with the condition.
Miss Kim said: “Malcolm was very angry about it. He was angry at me for having not pushed the doctor further. He really blamed me for not believing him. Whether that would have changed things or not I don’t know, but he had a point.
Kim is now considering making a formal complaint against the doctor who treated him.
She added: “His attitude was really inexcusable. I think if you’re doing a routine scan for other reasons and you notice it, you should pick up on it instead of ignore it and be very nihilistic about it. It’s not your life to be nihilistic with.”
McLaren’s body is due to be returned to London this week to be buried in Highgate Cemetery in north London.
Source: The Telegraph