It was Fadi Fawaz (left), George Michael’s (right) lover from 2011, who discovered the singer’s body in 2016
Both sides may claim to be driven by a deep love of the late George Michael. But, we can reveal, the singer’s family and his last lover are enmeshed in a truly poisonous war over his reported £105 million fortune.
The full extent of the bitterness between the two parties has only just become apparent. On one side are George’s devoted, publicity-averse sisters, 55-year-old Melanie and Yioda, 57, as well as his cousin Alex Georgiou, for decades George’s PA and driver. They remain fiercely protective of their beloved ‘Yog’, their endearing nickname for the star, whose real name was Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou.
Squaring up to these grieving relatives is George’s boyfriend Fadi Fawaz, 44, a former hairdresser of Lebanese origin. It was Fadi, his lover from 2011, who discovered the singer’s body in 2016. I am told he has become a major impediment in the legal process surrounding George’s will and is thus preventing his fortune from being properly handed out.
While George’s family remain stoic in their grief, Fadi has launched a series of vitriolic attacks on the late star’s inner circle via social media. Last week he described them as ‘savages, deadly creatures’ and he has made barely coded threats about what he might do if provoked.
You might wonder what on earth Fadi, who once counted the likes of singer Katherine Jenkins among his hairdressing clients, has to moan about. He now says he is a fine art photographer and is living free of charge in one of George’s ‘spare’ London homes, a £6 million three-bedroom mews property just off Regent’s Park. But he has many complaints and all of them, it seems, are about how he has been unfairly portrayed and about money.
Yet with no obvious income and no known legal right to remain in the house, Fadi appears to be on very shaky ground with his continued residency of George’s home. It seems he is desperately trying to cling on while, I’m told, George’s family very much want him out.
Such is his penury that Fadi recently sold a Range Rover said to have been a gift from George, and he says he can’t even afford to feed himself. ‘The icon’s partner still struggles to buy milk and water,’ he said in one self-pitying post on Twitter this week.
He also now claims that after his partner’s death, George’s inner circle stopped his credit cards and removed his possessions from George’s country house in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.
However, sources close to the George Michael estate say they have only ever treated Fadi with courtesy and generosity.
On one side are George’s devoted, publicity-averse sisters, 55-year-old Melanie (pictured left) and Yioda, 57 (pictured right)
Fadi said, in a stream of pidgin-English Twitter messages bizarrely addressed to his late partner: ‘They even accused me I had something to do with your death on the top of that they stopped all my cards . . . I even got denied to our home in Goring where they even packed my clothes and sent them to me in bin bags.’
Apparently referring to George’s inner circle as ‘puppies’, he continued: ‘Basically all the puppies that did anything and everything we wanted turned into savages, deadly creatures.
‘So for the next six months I couldn’t even eat they denied my right as a partner as person as human and as a citizen in the world.’
Last week, Fadi posted a picture of a note left by bailiffs, who tried to repossess some furniture because he could not pay a traffic fine, with the message: ‘Darling they have come to take your furniture coz I couldn’t effort [afford] the fine. But don’t worry I didn’t open the door for them.’
Such lamentations are in complete contrast to the behaviour of George’s family — and things between them are now so bad that a source who knew George well told me he believes the singer’s family want to evict Fadi from the Regent’s Park house.
If they have the right to do so, why, you might wonder, haven’t they done so already? After all, George has been dead for 16 months and his family have apparently long thought that Fadi, who has denied having a past as a porn star, was a mere footnote in comparison with the two great loves of George’s life, Texan businessman Kenny Goss, from whom he split in 2011, and Brazilian Anselmo Feleppa, who died of an Aids-related haemorrhage in 1993.
The answer may be that the family are desperate to avoid a scene.
Fadi seems to have based himself in George’s mews house in Regent’s Park (pictured), rather than sharing his £10 million principal London home, in Highgate
Fadi recently posted on Twitter that he has spent happy days ‘writing’ — widely seen as a coded message that he is planning a tell-all book about his life with George. On February 21, he wrote on Twitter: ‘Please media I’m ready to tell my story. Pls get in touch now I’m ready to tell everything I know.’
This stand-off, however, may soon be over. I’m told the family’s patience could be about to run out.
Why? Well, while Fadi remains in the house, a source close to the singer’s family tells me, George’s will cannot be finalised and his reported £105 million fortune divided out.
Probate — the process by which a will is accepted as the last testament of the dead person, which requires all of the deceased’s assets, from savings to houses, to be valued and assessed — cannot be declared, says the source, with a recalcitrant Fadi still living in the swish environs of Regent’s Park and in dispute with the family. And George’s will can only be acted upon and made public when probate has been declared.
There are lots of reasons why probate may be delayed but, in short, the dispute with Fadi may be preventing the family concluding the financial arrangements that need to be made after George’s untimely death at the age of 53, not to mention preventing them from ‘moving on’ emotionally.
Sources close to the George Michael estate say they have only ever treated Fadi with courtesy and generosity
Before the singer’s death, Fadi seems to have based himself in George’s mews house in Regent’s Park, rather than sharing his £10 million principal London home, in Highgate
The source told me: ‘They [the family] all hate him [Fadi]. They want him out of the house and don’t want to make him a settlement.
‘I don’t think he’s got a hope in hell of keeping the house but he seems to be hanging on to try.’
But Fadi isn’t going down without a fight. ‘Dear George,’ he wrote on Twitter earlier this year, ‘I’m sick and tired of asking my right from lawyers.’
But what ‘rights’ he actually has is a moot point. For unless the singer left him something in his will, which is yet to be made public, he has no claim in law to any assets or money whatever.
Cohabitation does not give you the right to inherit, or the right to property. Indeed, George never spoke publicly about whom he would like to inherit his wealth, and few of those close to the family believe he would have left anything to Fadi.
But as well as the constant threat to reveal all, Fadi is making it clear that he has one last card to play — and what a humdinger it is. He claims he possesses a final unreleased album of new work by George.
On February 7, he wrote on Twitter: ‘Thank you my dear for downloading and giving me your unrealised (unreleased) album I feel so special to know you wanted me to be the first and only person to have your incredible and what I think is your best album. I love you George.’
If this is true, the songs could be worth millions.
However, any copyright lawyer would tell you that if such an album does exist, it belongs to the late singer, not his lover. Fadi knows that if he did release it online, he would be made to take it down by Russells, the lawyers acting for the George Michael estate.
That was what happened with a song that Fadi posted on Facebook soon after George died.
Russells sent him a letter then, stating: ‘This song is unreleased. Our client did not wish, and his estate do not wish, this song to be publicly available.
‘The exploitation of this song, including the posting of hyperlinks to unauthorised reproductions of the song, is an infringement of our client’s rights.’
Other claims of Fadi’s are clouded in confusion.
Despite his regular hints that he will tell the story of his life with George, when pressed officially, he denies any such plans — and the publishing house rumoured to have him under contract has confirmed to me that no such deal exists.
Perhaps the greatest confusion of all surrounds George’s death from heart and liver disease on Christmas Day 2016.
His body was found by Fadi, who alerted police. But for reasons that have never been explained, Fadi had spent Christmas Eve sleeping in his car, yards away from George’s magnificent Thames-side house in Oxfordshire, and only raised the alarm in the morning.
You can only wonder how he will find a painless and cost-effective end to the ‘Fadi problem’
This has led to suggestions that Fadi and George were on the rocks. Indeed, before the singer’s death, Fadi seems to have based himself in George’s mews house in Regent’s Park, rather than sharing his £10 million principal London home, in Highgate. When Fadi’s cousin came to visit over the summer of 2016, she stayed with him in Regent’s Park.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Fadi has denied any rift: ‘We were very much in love, very much together,’ he said. ‘Why would I be there (in Goring) if we weren’t together? I was there the last day of his life, I was there.’
Today, George’s Highgate house is the site of a semi-permanent memorial by fans, who still lay flowers and tributes.
George’s cousin Alex Georgiou is living there — and caring for the late singer’s dog, Abby.
Meanwhile, George’s sister Melanie, who was his hairdresser on tour for many years and to whom he was very close, is, says neighbours, living nearby in George’s modern house in Hampstead, worth around £6 million. His other sister, Yioda, appears to be working in the St Albans area of Hertfordshire, but there is talk that she, too, is installed in one of George’s properties.
One family source said: ‘The sisters are going to get the houses in the will, from what I know. George looked after them all his life. Then all the future money from his royalties will go to the Terrence Higgins Trust [an HIV charity].’
There is some suggestion, however, that George’s fortune may not be as large as first thought. While it has been widely reported that it amounted to £105 million, one industry bigwig I spoke to this week says it may be more like half that.
Meanwhile, solicitor John Reid, of Russells, has been appointed as director to seven of George’s music companies, which exist to manage the varying parts of his musical legacy.
Between them, these companies hold £5.5 million in profits.
On the Russells website, it is noted that ‘John excels at solving problems for clients as painlessly and cost-effectively as possible’.
Yet as the mud-slinging continues, you can only wonder how he will find a painless and cost-effective end to the ‘Fadi problem’.