Madonna’s oldest brother, Anthony Ciccone, passed away on Friday due to unknown circumstances. He was 66.
Anthony and Madonna’s brother-in-law, Joe Henry, shared the news with a post on Instagram this past Saturday.
“My brother-in-law, Anthony Gerard Ciccone, exited this earthly plane last evening,” Henry captioned a black and white headshot of Anthony. “I’ve known him since I was 15, in the spring of our lives in Michigan so many years now gone. As brother Dave Henry (who took this photograph) notes here, Anthony was a complex character; and god knows: we tangled in moments, as true brothers can.”
Henry is married to Madonna and Anthony’s sister, Melanie.
“But I loved him,” he continued, “and understood him better than I was sometimes willing to let on. But trouble fades; and family remains— with hands reached across the table. Farewell, then, brother Anthony.
“I want to think the god your blessed mother (and mine) believed in has her there, waiting to receive you,” he concluded the message, referring to Madonna’s mother who passed away in 1963 from breast cancer. “At least for today, no one shall dissuade me from this vision.”
Madonna has yet to comment on the passing of her brother, but did like Henry’s post.
Anthony is the oldest of his seven siblings and grew up in Detroit, MI – which is also where he had reportedly died. After Madonna rose to stardom, Anthony had expressed that he became estranged from the rest of his family.
In a 2011 interview with Daily Mail, he detailed how he felt his family always looked down on him and that he and his sister never really got along.
“I’m a zero in their eyes; a non-person, an embarrassment,” he said, adding, “If I froze to death, my family probably wouldn’t know or care about it for six months.”
Anthony had been in and out of rehab for various reasons, including alcoholism, and had been homeless for a time, living “on the streets” in Michigan. He was back in rehab for the past few months, having especially declined in his most recent stay, according to a source close to People.
“They were all there for him and despite being estranged, Madonna supported him in every way she could when he was willing to take the support,” the source said. “Family members including Madonna visited him while in his rehab facility as he declined these past few months.”
Despite their rocky relationship, Anthony expressed he was “proud” of Madonna for what she has accomplished, but still struggled with his own identity, having been the brother to the pop star and actress.
“I’m proud of my sister,” he said in 2011, “but it’s been a burden, because I can’t be me; I have to be related to a celebrity. […] People have their ideas and expectations. My sister’s a multi-millionaire — but she earned it, I have to give her credit for that.”