GEORGE Michael’s family believe his devoted sister Melanie Panayiotou died of a broken heart — because she never got over his death.
Melaine, found dead aged 59 on Christmas Day exactly three years after George, lived her final years in turmoil and as a semi-recluse.
Her appearances in public became fewer and fewer as she struggled with George’s death at the age of 53 and its aftermath.
A family source said: “People think she died from a broken heart.
“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.”
Melanie was also upset by her family’s legal battles with George’s boyfriend Fadi Fawaz, 46, who had to be forced to leave one of the late singer’s homes after smashing it up.
The source said: “She was deeply troubled by the situation with Fadi.
“Melanie never got over George’s death or filled the void that was left by his passing.
“She was the closest to him of anyone in the family. Although she was in touch with Yioda, I don’t think she saw much of her dad and had lost George and her mother.
“She seemed lonely. Everyone is now so shocked by her death because it came so out of the blue and the timing is so odd.”
Shirlie Kemp, George’s ex-backing singer and wife of Spandau Ballet star Martin, yesterday described Melanie as “one of the kindest, most considerate people ever”.
And Melanie’s former neighbour Alex Kovaleski said: “Sad news about George Michael’s sister Melanie. She was a gregarious and kind person. The fact that her brother was so famous was just a matter of fact.”
Melanie was said to be upset by online stories about her brother, including a Swedish woman’s claims she had a child by George.
She even contacted some of his fans because she was so horrified by what Ulrika Wonwolf was saying.
One said: “Melanie contacted me as she was mortified by these claims.
“We had been in touch before over something else which is why she had my details. She wanted to know where the claims came from — and whether people believed them.
“She said ‘That woman is crazy. There’s no truth to it’.”
Melanie even sent the fan a Ritz voucher worth £300 so she could have tea at the famous London hotel.
The fan said: “I was very touched by the gesture.
“She sent it because I’d been bothered by some of George’s fans.
“She said that situation would not have been what George would have wanted. While we were there a member of staff at The Ritz said Melanie had been in with her sister a few weeks before. But apart from that, I had the strong impression that she didn’t go out much at all.
“She was chatty but she never sounded jolly and upbeat.
“I think she was depressed and lonely and that could have contributed to her death.”
During their chats, Melanie opened up about the trouble the family had endured with Fadi, who found George dead in bed.
The fine art photographer “squatted” in George’s mansion near Regents Park after his death. There have been reports that Fadi, left nothing in George’s will, was paid an allowance by the star’s estate and the family feared him writing a tell-all book.
The fan said: “The one thing that really got to her was Fadi.
“She said he was a ‘complete nightmare’ for the family.
“She did her best not to get involved with him and the situation and left it to lawyers to deal with. But it really got her down.”
Hairdresser Melanie’s body was found by Yioda at her £6million home in Hampstead, North London — previously George’s.
Police said the death was not suspicious. Her death came two days after she Yioda, father Jack and George’s manager David Austin sent a message to her brothers’ fans.
It said: “We will be swerving the bad and enjoying the good as much as we can this coming year (2019 has been difficult and busy for George’s hardworking team).”
The message gave no indication that Melanie was ill or struggling.
She and Yioda inherited the bulk of their brother’s £96.7million estate in June. Neither sister worked full-time while he was alive as he was so generous towards them.
George was found dead on Christmas Day 2016. An autopsy showed he suffered from a fatty liver and enlarged heart.
Melanie hosted his funeral in Highgate and ensured George was laid to rest next to mum Lesley who died in 1997.
Melanie is now expected to be buried in the same plot.
MEL’S ‘KINDEST EVER’
GEORGE’S ex-backing singer Shirlie Kemp yesterday paid tribute to Melanie.
Shirlie, wife of Spandau Ballet star Martin, said Melanie had been “one of the kindest, and most considerate of others I ever met”.
She added: “We both shared a great love of flowers and many of the flowers in my photos were hers.
“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 Mel.”