Virgil Abloh dies at 41 after cancer battle; Kanye, Frank Ocean & more pay tribute
Fashion designer, artist, and DJ Virgil Abloh has died at age 41 after privately battling cancer. An announcement on his Instagram reads:
We are devastated to announce the passing of our beloved Virgil Abloh, a fiercely devoted father, husband, son, brother, and friend. He is survived by his loving wife Shannon Abloh, his children Lowe Abloh and Grey Abloh, his sister Edwina Abloh, his parents Nee and Eunice Abloh, and numerous dear friends and colleagues.
For over two years, Virgil valiantly battled a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma. He chose to endure his battle privately since his diagnosis in 2019, undergoing numerous challenging treatments, all while helming several significant institutions that span fashion, art, and culture.
Through it all, his work ethic, infinite curiosity, and optimism never wavered. Virgil was driven by his dedication to his craft and to his mission to open doors for others and create pathways for greater equality in art and design. He often said, “Everything I do is for the 17-year-old version of myself,” believing deeply in the power of art to inspire future generations.
We thank you all for your love and support, and we ask for privacy as we grieve and celebrate Virgil’s life.
In addition to working in fashion, Virgil was heavily involved with music. He's released his own music (including a collaboration with serpentwithfeet from earlier this year), he worked on album artwork for Kanye West, Pop Smoke, Kid Cudi, A$AP Rocky, Westside Gunn, and more, he's DJed major festivals like Coachella, and more.
Tributes to Virgil have come pouring in, including from Kanye West's Sunday Service Choir, who covered Adele's "Easy" during a livestream with the words "In loving memory of Virgil Abloh, creative director of ‘Donda'" on screen:
Frank Ocean also penned an open letter to Virgil in his Instagram stories, concluding simply with "Love You V. You're a hero."
Tyler, the Creator wrote:
Sir Abloh was a true geek about things. Passion seeped through everything he did. Whether a random set of songs we've never heard or what pantone the wing of a plane should be, he always meant it. My favorite project of his was that Benz G-Wagon. My eyes couldn't comprehend what it was. My brain couldn't fathom that it was real. But my body and spirit was overjoyed cause i didnt know we could do those type of things and THE NIGGA DID THAT! He kept upping it, every single time. Ahead. ABLOH. that strong African last name. few years back i started using more of my African last name OKONMA because of how regal Virgils felt. Everything he did felt like he said " hey over here, coast is clear" whenever i questioned things. now about a week away since we last spoke, that convo i thought was random holds so much more weight now. Sometimes, part of us sharing our wild ideas is to get approval from our peers to keep it pushing, but virgil was ALWAYS a cheerleader. For everyone. That hand of his opened doors, lead people in and tossed the keys outside for the next person to have. i wish i was able to see him see what his helping hand did for me. his spirit is around tho. i feel it. he'll see it. i'll keep pushing and trying things while leaving the door open. he'll shake those pom-poms. we'll keep that on loop. safe travels.
Watch some videos and see tributes to Virgil from Drake, Pharrell Williams, Justin Vernon, Questlove, and others below.
Rest in peace, Virgil.