Son of Sex Pistols’ Manager Malcolm McLaren Burns $6.2 Million Worth of Punk Rock Memorabilia
Joe Corré, the son of Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, set fire to his collection of punk rock memorabilia on Nov. 26. Corré valued his collection, which he burned on the Thames on a rented barge, at $6.25 million.
Corré, who founded the lingerie brand Agent Provocateur, timed this stunt to protest Punk London, a yearlong retrospective—including concerts, exhibitions and films—of punk rock in the U.K. that syncs up with the 40th anniversary of The Ramones’ first British performance. The event was sponsored by BFI, the British Library, and the Museum of London, which rankled Corré immensely.
“The Queen giving 2016, the Year of Punk, her official blessing is the most frightening thing I’ve ever heard,” Corré said in a press release. “Rather than a movement for change, punk has become like a f—ing museum piece or a tribute act.”
While Corré claims to have burnt Sex Pistols acetate recordings and a pair of Johnny Rotten’s bondage pants, among other things, he didn’t release any official manifest of the items burned, leading the Observer‘s Tim Sommer to question the value of his collection. Business Insider‘s Jim Edwards was also highly critical of the stunt, noting that Corré originally financed Agent Provocateur with the sale of punk memorabilia, making his stunt all the more hypocritical.
“This is history,” Edwards writes. “Punk’s influence on Western culture has been massive. It is worth understanding where it came from. People should be able to see its founding documents and holy artifacts.” He goes on to call Corré’s stunt “the reprehensible act of a millionaire whose most significant achievement was choosing parents who were also millionaires.”
The legacy of Corré’s father, the late Malcolm McLaren, is also a factor here. The Sex Pistols themselves, most notably John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten), accused McLaren of theft and exploitation while he was their manager, and portions of Lydon’s book No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs paint McLaren as a shameless publicity hound whose goal was to commercialize punk rock at any cost.
In fact, Corré’s own stunt references one of his father’s more famous ones: During the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in June 1977, McLaren had his band crash the celebration on a boat on the Thames, which ended with multiple arrests. Check out some grainy footage below.
When asked for comment, the Pistols’ Lydon lashed out at Corré with his customary venom; according to NME, he called Corré a “selfish f—ing lingerie expert” and asked reporters “if you’re going to destroy £5 million worth of anything, isn’t it better to sell it and give the money to charity?”
For photos of some of the clothing burnt by Corré, check out Vice‘s listing here.