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George Malkemus, beloved footwear executive and co-founder of SJP, dies at 67

Sarah Jessica Parker and Malkemus worked closely for eight years on the SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker shoe collection.
/ Source: TODAY

Beloved footwear executive George Malkemus died on Thursday, Sept. 16 in his New York City home. He was 67.

Malkemus was best known of helping build the luxury shoe brand Manolo Blahnik’s brand presence in the United States, a staple in Carrie Bradshaw’s wardrobe in “Sex and the City.” In 2013, Malkemus teamed up with Sarah Jessica Parker who portrayed the iconic New York fashionista as a co-founder of the actor's eponymous shoe brand SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker.

George Dewey Malkemus III attends a shoe signing event for SJP line at David Jones Elizabeth Street Store on October 20, 2019.
George Dewey Malkemus attends a shoe signing event for SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker on Oct. 20, 2019.Caroline McCredie / Getty Images

Parker mourned the loss of her business partner on Instagram on Saturday, Sept. 18. She shared a picture of a metal cuff engraved with “WWGM3D?” meaning “What would George D. Malkemus III do?” In the caption, she penned a heartbreaking message to pay tribute to the late footwear executive who seemed to be loved by many in the industry.

“George D. Malkemus lll February 23rd, 1954 — September 16th, 2021,” the "And Just Like That..." star wrote. “I cannot summon the words for a fitting tribute. He deserves prose I don’t yet have. I have to gather my thoughts. Today I can only say I’m utterly heartbroken.”

She continued, adding, “RIP dearest partner, elegant gentleman George.”

“Til we meet again, I will spend the rest of my days asking ‘what would GM3 do?’” she concluded the caption. “I’m going to miss you so ‘F’in’’ much. Forever. X, Your SJ.”

On the official SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Instagram page, another tribute was shared to honor his memory and contribution to the brand. The post featured multiple photos of Parker and Malkemus together throughout the years. In the first photo, the two appeared to be laughing as they carried boxes of shoes together. The second photo showed them posing side-by-side at an event while the third photo showed them intently examining and organizing lines of dozens of shoes.

The caption included a message to remember Malkemus, reading in part, “George touched our lives, and the lives of many, with so much more than just beautiful shoes.”

“He will be remembered for his kindness, unwavering generosity, spirit, sense of humor, passion, brilliant and inspired mind, and for the way he treated everyone he met like family,” the captioned continued. “Even in our grief, we hold on tightly to the joyous memories he gave us throughout the years. GM3, we will forever honor you and do our best to make you proud.”

The news of Malkemus’ death was first announced on Friday, Sept. 17 in twin posts on Arethusa Farm’s Instagram and Facebook accounts. The dairy farm, located in Litchfield, Connecticut, was owned by Malkemus and his partner, Tony Yurgaitis. Both posts included a photo of Malkemus and Yurgaitis posing in front of a barn on the farm with one of their cows. The posts shared he died after a long battle with cancer.

“Our George was very private — preferring not to trouble anyone with his health concerns,” the post read in part. “Though, throughout his illness, George and Tony worked together planning for and insuring the future of Arethusa.”

The post concluded on an optimistic note to honor the late footwear exec, reading, “Even in our grief, we will honor George and his legacy by following his wishes— to celebrate his life and continuing to serve our community the very best that Arethusa Farm has to offer.”

In 1982, Malkemus bought the North and South American rights to designer Manolo Blahnik’s name after the two met briefly, according to Footwear News. Malkemus and Blahnik worked together for three decades until 2019, when the then president of Manolo Blahnik USA decided not to renew his license with the brand. He continued to work with Parker up until his death.

For Parker, choosing to collaborate with Malkemus on the next adventure in her career was a massive decision, but only he made sense for the role in her mind.

Sarah Jessica Parker and George Malkemus III attend launch of SJP By Sarah Jessica Parker store at the Seaport District NYC on September 13, 2018 in New York City.
Sarah Jessica Parker and George Malkemus attend the launch of the SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker store on Sept. 13, 2018 in New York City.Craig Barritt / Getty Images

“I met with lots of interesting and kind and lovely potential partners, but at night when I was lying in my bed thinking about this opportunity and what it meant to me, those partnerships didn’t seem right for me,” Parker told Footwear News in 2013. “I realized the one person I’d want to work with, in an ideal world, was George…But I was hesitant because I knew how obligated he was.”

Parker ended up reaching out to Malkemus and when the two met, she realized, “This is the relationship I wanted to be in. The way he wants to function and operate this business is everything that’s important to me.”