RIP Melanie Panayiotou: What We Know About George Michael's Sister Who Passed Away On The Third Anniversary Of His Death

RIP Melanie Panayiotou: What We Know About George Michael's Sister Who Passed Away On The Third Anniversary Of His Death

Fans and loved ones were stunned in 2016 when George Michael died unexpectedly on Christmas Day. Now, his family is grappling with another Christmas Day death: his sister Melanie Panayiotou passed away on December 25, 2019 — exactly three years to the day after her older brother. 

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The family isn't sharing details about her death at this time and are asking for privacy as they mourn this tragic loss. However, reports from London suggest that the police are not treating Panayiotou's death as suspicious in any way. 

Panayiotou had been spending the weeks prior to her passing promoting the film Last Christmas which is inspired by her brother's song of the same title and was released this year. On the George Michael website, the family wrote, "Thank you for embracing and supporting the ‘Last Christmas’ movie and soundtrack, we knew you would enjoy it!! We love that you love it, as would [George]."

How did George Michael's sister die? Here is everything we know about her tragic death.  

1. Melanie Panayiotou was George Michael's older sister. 

George Michael was the youngest of the three Panayiotou siblings. His sisters Melanie and Yioda kept the family name Panyiotou, though their brother changed his name when he went into the music industry. He was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou and was known by his family as Yog.

Michael and Melanie Panayiotou were very close, and she often traveled with him when he was touring at the peak of his career. A source says she "was there at many of the big milestones in his life, and was there by his side until the very end." The siblings lost their mother Lesley in 1997. Their father Kyriacos, better known as Jack, is still living. 

2. His sisters were major beneficiaries of his estate after he died in 2016.

When Michael passed away in 2016, he left the bulk of his estate, which was estimated to be worth about £98 million, to his sisters and to charitable causes that he supported during his lifetime. In fact, at the time of her death, Panayiotou was living in a £6.2 million home in Hampstead, North London, which had been previously owned by her famous sibling and which she inherited.

His will famously left out his lover at the time, Fadi Fawaz, who had been the at the singer's home the night he died and he had discovered his body. Fawaz spent two years refusing to leave the home they had shared and had to be forcibly removed earlier this year. 

3. Panayiotou may have never really gotten over the loss of her little brother. 

According to sources close to Panayiotou, she was devastated by her brother's death three years ago. "Mel had a heart of gold. She was exceptionally close to George and his death hit her hard," a relative said. The years since Michael died were hard for her and she didn't socialize much, mainly focusing on her work as a hairstylist and her remaining family. 

"People think she died from a broken heart," someone close to her reported. "She had been living as a recluse and only really went out to the hairdressers and post office and occasionally with her older sister Yioda. She stayed indoors, had shopping delivered and rarely left the house."

4. How did George Michael's sister die?

No one has released a cause of death for Panayiotou at this time. We only know that her sister Yioda reportedly found her body at her home on Christmas day and called for an ambulance.

The family issued a short statement saying, "We can confirm that very tragically, Melanie has passed away suddenly." The family's representative went on to say, “We would simply ask that the family’s privacy be respected at this very sad time. There will be no further comment.” Panayiotou was 59 years old at the time of her death. 

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5. The police are not investigating the death as suspicious.

Although London police have confirmed they went to the scene of Panayiotou's death, it doesn't appear they think there was any foul play. "Police were called by London Ambulance Service at approximately 19:35 hrs on Wednesday, 25 December to reports of the sudden death of a woman, aged in her 50s," their statement said. "The death is not being treated as suspicious by police."

While Michael famously struggled with addiction issues, there are no reports to suggest that substance abuse was a problem for his sister or that drugs played any role in her death. Michael's cause of death was ruled totally natural, related to heart and liver disease. 

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6. Friends and family alike are mourning her passing. 

Michael's former Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgley took to Twitter to offer condolences to the Panayiotou family. "Utterly tragic news of Mel Panayiotou’s passing," the singer said. "My thoughts are with her sister and father at this desperately sad time."

Singer Shirlie Kemp said, in a series of now-deleted tweets, "Her kindness to me and others even when she was in pain herself was incredible. I pray she is now with her beautiful brother and her lovely mother. Rest in peace dear Mel."

The family hasn't released any details about a burial for Panayiotou but there are rumors she'll be buried with her brother. He was laid to rest in an unmarked grave so that fans would not be able to find his final rest place and disturb it. 

RELATED: We Now Know George Michael's Cause Of Death — And It's Heartbreaking

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. She is the creator of the blog FeminXer and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.