IT took five years for George Michael to get a gravestone – but with rows over the singer’s estate festering on, it could take far longer before he can finally rest in peace.
The Careless Whisper star died on Christmas Day, 2016 aged just 53 — since when his £97million fortune has remained in dispute and a planned movie about his troubled life has been put on ice.
The Sun revealed last week that only now has a headstone been placed on George’s grave in Highgate Cemetery, near his London home.
While the modest slab of marble brings some closure to his previously unmarked resting place, sadly it is by far the end of the fallout from his untimely death.
Ex-lovers, including his troubled, drug-abusing boyfriend Fadi Fawaz, continue to pester for handouts and his closest relatives remain at odds over how best to manage his memory.
As one insider put it: “It’s five years since George was laid to rest but things still aren’t quite settled. Even after all this time there are efforts to get hold of his money.
“Fadi is still a nightmare — he’s always causing headaches — and the family have rowed a lot over the details. The simple fact is George’s estate is as complex as ever.”
After a long legal battle, in May this year George’s sister Yioda agreed to pay another ex-lover, Texan former air steward Kenny Goss, £15,000 a month in an out-of-court settlement.
Previously she and George’s other sister Melanie had resisted his attempts to get his hands on any of George’s fortune.
Kenny had been with the former Wham! singer for 13 years before their split in 2011. Under the Inheritance Act 1975 a former partner can bring a claim against the deceased’s estate if they think they have been left without reasonable financial support.
Kenny said of George: “We just had a really good, sweet relationship. He was truly the love of my life. And I think I was the love of his life.”
His legal team said that George had not been in his right mind when he signed the will in 2013.
Certainly, his life was in turmoil at that point due to an addiction to drink and drugs. An indication of his state of mind came four months after he signed his final will, when he fell out of his car on the M1, mira-culously suffering only minor injuries.
Whatever his mental state, George had put aside huge sums for good causes, giving a piano that had once been owned by John Lennon and was worth £1.7million to charity.
Securing the monthly sum will be good news for Kenny, who had previously had to sell paintings George had given him.
But while one lover let his lawyers do the talking, George’s final partner has ranted and raged in vain.
Bitter ex Fadi Fawaz has posted nasty comments about George on social media and has been arrested for odd attacks.
The 45-year-old Australian was fined £420 for spray-painting “Kill Fawaz” on a 13th century church in central London in October.
When a police officer arrested him he claimed the graffiti was a reference to his brother.
The same words were daubed on the back of Fawaz’s jacket. A year ago he smashed the window of a London beauty salon and after missing several court appearances, was fined £800 for criminal damage.
Fadi is still a nightmare — he’s always causing headaches
In the summer of 2020 he was arrested following a spate of hammer attacks on cars in London.
Fawaz, a hair stylist, was arrested at his home in Bethnal Green wearing flip-flops, tracksuit bottoms and a shellsuit.
On Twitter he has claimed that George didn’t write his own music and on Facebook he wrote: “What a big mistake George Michael was in my life. But we all live to learn or die to teach.”
He also told how he was auctioning the singer’s possessions because he had no money left.
It was Fawaz who discovered George dead in bed. They met in 2009, two years before George broke up with Kenny, and they later lived together at the singer’s seven-bedroom Grade II listed mansion, The Grove, in North London’s exclusive Highgate Village.
But how close they were is in doubt, given that George left him nothing in his will.
BITTER EX FADI
After the singer’s death Fawaz squatted at another of George’s London properties near Regent’s Park, refusing to give the £5million pile back to George’s family. In July 2019 he was arrested after reportedly standing on the roof topless. A few days earlier he had been in trouble for smashing up the house.
The Grove was rented out to high-end clients for £15,000 a week. Businessman and George Michael fan Stephen Cameron snapped it up in December last year despite the £19million price tag.
Married father-of-three Stephen, who runs a communications firm, said: “It’s a beautiful property. I’m also a huge George Michael fan, so that makes it even better.”
George had originally paid £7.65million for the property. After his death, most of his estate passed to his sisters Yioda and Melanie Panayiotou. But in a repeat of George’s own Christmas tragedy, Melanie died on December 25, 2019, after falling into a diabetic coma.
The 59-year-old hairdresser was found by her elder sister at her home in Hampstead, North London.
Two days before her death Melanie had written that the family were looking forward to “swerving the bad and enjoying the good” in 2020.
We now how much his lyrics can offer support when things are tough and help celebrate when times are good.
In the family message on George’s website it said: “We know how much his lyrics can offer support when things are tough and help celebrate when times are good.
“It seems important that his generosity of spirit and natural empathy have touched you in a way that would have him embarrassed, all your kind words are really good to hear and we know you have always known his true heart.”
Andrew Ridgeley, George’s former bandmate in Wham!, said: “Utterly tragic news of Mel Panayiotou’s passing. My thoughts are with her sister and father at this desperately sad time.”
When she was laid to rest in January, Fadi Fawaz was banned from attending the funeral. All this chaos has sadly cast a shadow over George’s legacy — and more importantly for fans, halted a planned biopic of his life.
His estate was keen to move ahead with a movie following the success of films Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody, about Elton John and Queen, and had spoken to screen writers about a celebration of his career.
But rows over what it should cover — and what it shouldn’t — have stalled the project. As one insider put it: “No one can agree how much of the drama of his real life should go into it, because they’re all so distracted by the dramas still going on.”
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