Buzz Aldrin alleges fraud in suit against family, manager and his own organizations
BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — A document coming out of Florida’s 18th Judicial Circuit states that Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin has apparently opened a civil suit against two of his children and his former manager involved with several of his organizations.
Buzz Aldrin, best known as the second man to walk on the Moon as the lunar module pilot on Apollo 11, claims in the 115-page document that members of his family and foundation have mishandled his finances as well as his trust, and slandered the 88-year-old, alleging that some of the defendants were claiming he had dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The suit was opened in the afternoon on June 7, 2018. The defendants in the lawsuit are the Moonwalker’s son, Andrew Aldrin, his daughter Janice Aldrin and Christina Korp, the former manager of Buzz Aldrin’s family foundation.
Additionally, several of Buzz Aldrin’s organizations were listed as defendants: Buzz Aldrin Enterprises, Buzz Aldrin Space Foundation, Buzz Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation, the Aldrin Space Institute at the Florida Institute of Technology and the Aldrin Center for Entrepreneurship in Space at the Florida Institute of Technology.
According to Florida Today, Andrew Aldrin is the controlling trustee of Buzz Aldrin’s estate, which oversees his space memorabilia which has been estimated as being worth several million of dollars. Andrew Aldrin also serves as Buzz Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation’s president and is the director of the Aldrin Institute located at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida.
Buzz Aldrin’s daughter Janice Aldrin is also a ShareSpace foundation board member. Her bio describes her role with the ShareSpace Foundation as being: “…a dynamic fit to join in her father’s vision as a Board Member of Buzz Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation to promote science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics to young people so that they are inspired to reach their full potential in these fields.”
“We are deeply disappointed and saddened by the unjustified lawsuit that has been brought against us individually and against the Foundation that we have built together as a family to carry on Dad’s legacy for generations to come. When we established the current structure several years ago, it was done so at Buzz’s request and with his full support. If nothing else, our family is resilient and our ability to work together to solve problems and accomplish great things is strong. We love and respect our father very much and remain hopeful that we can rise above this situation and recover the strong relationship that built this foundation in the first place,” Andrew and Jan Aldrin stated in a release shortly after this report was published. “We will not be commenting further on the lawsuit and ask your understanding and respect for our family privacy at this extremely difficult time.”
Korp served in several of Buzz Aldrin’s organizations, she was the manager and Mission Control Director at Buzz Aldrin Enterprises. Her bio on Buzz Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation describes her as being “directly responsible for managing the Buzz Aldrin Brand and ‘all things Buzz.’ As part of Team Buzz for seven years, she oversees company operations, including all marketing, business development, media, licensing, public relations and public appearances by Dr. Buzz Aldrin.”
The suit alleges all three of them of breach of fiduciary duties as well as slander, and accuses Andrew Aldrin and Korp of exploitation of the elderly, fraud and unjust enrichment, among other things.
According to the lawsuit, Buzz Aldrin alleges that Andrew Aldrin and Korp, in their acting capacities and individually, have gained control of the Moonwalker’s credit cards, bank accounts, trust money, space memorabilia and artifacts, social media accounts and “all elements of the Buzz Aldrin brand.”
The suit claims Andrew Aldrin and Korp have “effectively established a de facto guardianship” over Buzz Aldrin and that, despite numerous requests, they have not provided Buzz Aldrin any legal basis for the alleged takeover of his accounts and foundation.
Moreover, the lawsuit alleges Andrew Aldrin and Korp have been slandering Buzz Aldrin “for the past number of years” in public to individuals or small groups by stating he “has dementia and Alzheimer’s.” The suit goes on to state that they have used this to “gain further control” over the Moonwalker’s personal relationships, business contacts and assets and have “forbidden” Buzz Aldrin from marrying and “deliberately have undermined, bullied and defamed” all of his personal romantic relationships.
Additionally, the suit claims that Andrew Aldrin and Janice Aldrin have further slandered Buzz Aldrin’s new management team, which he established to help combat “false accusations and adverse actions.”
Regarding finances, the suit alleges that in 2017 Andrew Aldrin transferred $200,000 within two separate transactions from Buzz Aldrin’s bank account to his own personal account without Buzz Aldrin’s knowledge or consent before making “multiple monetary transfers of varying amounts to the Buzz Aldrin Enterprises, Inc. account shortly thereafter on each occasion.”
This allegedly continued on into 2018 with Andrew Aldrin transferring an additional $275,000 into his personal account, according to the lawsuit.
Additionally, the suit claims Andrew Aldrin and Korp had “credit cards as authorized users” under Buzz Aldrin’s accounts and each “individually made monthly business and personal charges totalling up to $60,000 under the guise of trustee, power of attorney, and/or employee” without Buzz Aldrin’s knowledge or consent.
Then, on April 17, 2018, through Buzz Aldrin’s attorney in California, Korp received a “cease and desist” letter essentially asking the longtime manager to stop representing Buzz Aldrin, his likeness and his brand, and to cease use of his financial accounts, among other things. When Andrew Aldrin and Korp allegedly ignored the letter, the California attorney sent Korp a letter terminating her employment with Buzz Aldrin Enterprises.
However, according to the lawsuit, Korp has continued to represent herself as Buzz Aldrin’s employee and continues to manage his “affairs, brand, and negotiate deals committing [Buzz Aldrin] to activities he is unaware of, nor in agreement with once discovered.”
The suit alleges that Andrew Aldrin as trustee and as head of the institution employing Korp, as well as with the help of Janice Aldrin, claims he can block any termination by Buzz Aldrin. As such, Buzz Aldrin has revoked all powers of attorney on his behalf, but Andrew Aldrin and Korp continue to act on Buzz Aldrin’s behalf and control his finances.
Finally, the lawsuit claims Andrew Aldrin, Janice Aldrin and Korp have “been directing [Buzz Aldrin’s] personal funds to accomplish [their] own personal goals that do not align with [Buzz Aldrin’s] goals.
This legal action precedes a tweet from Buzz’s official Twitter account, @TheRealBuzz, on June 18, 2018, stating he fired Korp (@Buzzs_xtina): “Hey Twittersphere, pls RT @buzzs_xtina was terminated and does NOT represent Buzz Aldrin in ANY capacity. Her days of using Buzz’s voice & brand to self-promote/ promote her clients i.e. @AstroTerry are over. [Hope she changes her twitter handle soon as that’s just embarrassing!]”
Statements have been issued that appear to contradict the above Twitter post: I have been reassured by the Buzz Aldrin Space Foundation that, contrary to recent Twitter postings on @TheRealBuzz, Christina Korp has not been terminated. Such a termination would require a majority vote of the board, which has not occurred. Christina is continuing in her ongoing roles with the Buzz Aldrin Space Foundation and Share Space Foundation.
We are not sure who is responsible for the Tweet regarding Christina, but we are confident Buzz did not write this. It appears, as many have speculated online, that management of the Twitter account @TheRealBuzz has indeed been reassigned without proper verification.
I will add that the Aldrin family and Foundation colleagues have expressed concern for Buzz’s potential vulnerability to manipulation by other parties seeking to gain access to and control of Foundation and personal resources. In addition to the important mission of the Foundation, they remain committed to protecting his personal reputation and professional legacy, as well as his ability to remain self-sustaining financially.
The above statement was issued by the Spokesman for the Buzz Aldrin Space Foundation – Jeff Carr.
“We are not sure who is responsible for the tweet regarding Christina Korp, but we are confident Buzz did not write this,” the foundation is reported to have said, according to Florida Today article. Further, the article states Korp is still employed by, and has the full support of, the foundation.
For her part, Korp had a history of promoting and sharing Twitter content related to Buzz until May 7, 2018, after which time she has not mentioned the Moonwalker. Indeed, her account has not mentioned the suit.
Reports have noted that Robert H. Tourtelot, the attorney who represented Mark Fuhrman at the O.J. Simpson trial (according to the New York Times), appears to be the attorney who is representing Buzz Aldrin in this suit.
Few can match Buzz Aldrin’s record in terms of crewed space exploration. Indeed, he was instrumental in proving astronauts could work in the vacuum of space with his then-record extravehicular activity (EVA) on Gemini 12.
Buzz Aldrin has been married, and divorced, three times. Following his space missions, he suffered from alcoholism and fell on hard times after he retired from NASA in 1971. He found himself an unsuccessful Cadillac salesman in Beverly Hills a mere eight years after Apollo 11, according to CNN.
In the past, he has succumbed to emotional outbursts. In one instance he struck Bart Sibrel after the conspiracy theorist harassed and accused Buzz Aldrin of lying about landing on the Moon.
YouTube video posted by Awesome 10s
The Moonwalking astronaut has admitted to suffering from depression, a condition he states was inherited from his mother, as reported by the New York Times. Buzz Aldrin’s mother, born Marion Moon, committed suicide a year before Buzz’s historic Apollo 11.
One of Buzz Aldrin’s most recent legal encounters stemmed from the marriage of he and his third wife, Lois Driggs Cannon. Citing irreconcilable differences, the retired astronaut sought a dissolution of his marriage from Ms. Cannon in 2011, and later filed a lawsuit against Cannon and her daughter, Lisa Cannon.
The two Cannons—through StarBuzz Enterprises, LLC—were initially credited with turning around Buzz Aldrin’s post-astronaut public persona, leading to his return to the public eye. However, The Moonwalker sued his estranged wife and stepdaughter, contending they tricked him out of substantial earnings, and duped him into signing over 60 percent of the company to the duo.
In fact, Buzz Aldrin lamented that the pair owned most of everything he earned since he walked on the Moon. That cache of “ill-gotten gain” included something even more personal to the former astronaut: his public name.
Aldrin filed suit against the Cannons, looking for a judge to overturn the legal agreement.
”Plaintiff had absolutely no understanding at the time he signed that he was giving up complete ownership and control of all of his property rights in his fame, celebrity, personality and publicity rights until … June 2011, when his new counsel advised him of this shocking and devastating news,” stated the suit, as reported by the Gannawarra Times.
At one time Korp was reported to be pivotal in his recovery after his time with Lois and Lisa Cannon, and before the most recent lawsuit has been with Buzz for nearly ten years. Korp was fired by Lois Cannon in 2011, but Buzz hired her back to help manage both his public and private lives, often acting as a gatekeeper to those seeking to connect with the retired astronaut.
A life of accomplishment
Born on Jan. 20, 1933, in Montclair, New Jersey, Buzz Aldrin received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point in New York in 1951. He graduated third in his class and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force.
Before joining NASA, Aldrin flew 66 combat missions in F-86 Sabre jets for the U.S. Air Force while stationed in Korea. During his tour of duty, he shot down two Mikoyan-Gurevich Mig-15 aircraft. After the war, he was assigned as an aerial gunnery instructor at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.
Additionally, he flew F-100 Super Sabres as the flight commander of the 22nd Fighter Squadron while stationed at Bitburg Air Base, Germany. With 21 years of service, Aldrin retired from the Air Force in March 1972.
In January of 1963, Aldrin earned a doctorate of science in astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. His thesis was “Guidance for Manned Orbital Rendezvous,” which later earned him the nickname, “Dr. Rendezvous.” With the completion of his doctorate, Aldrin was assigned to the Gemini Target Office of the Air Force Space Systems Division located in Los Angeles.
Aldrin was selected in NASA’s third astronaut class in October of 1963. His first application to the Astronaut Corps was rejected because he wasn’t a test pilot. However, he re-applied and was accepted after NASA lifted that prerequisite. He was the first astronaut candidate with a doctorate.
The docking and rendezvous techniques Aldrin devised for the Gemini and Apollo programs was based on his collegiate thesis. He also pioneered underwater training techniques used to simulate spacewalking.
Gemini 12 was his first orbital mission, which launched on Nov. 11, 1966, with command pilot Jim Lovell. Aldrin performed spacewalks and set a new record of 5.5 hours outside the spacecraft. The mission focused on testing methods and techniques to perfect human maneuvers outside a spacecraft. It also focused on rendezvous and docking with the Agena target vehicle.
Aldrin also says he took the first selfie in space. The four-day flight successfully ended the 10-mission Gemini program, which was instrumental in paving the way for the Apollo program to achieve the goal of landing a man on the Moon by the end of the 1960s.
He rose to prominence on Apollo 11, along with Neil Armstrong. On July 20, 1969, they became the first two humans to set foot on another world, completing a 2-hour, 15-minute lunar EVA.
During his time with the agency, Aldrin accumulated 289 hours, 53 minutes in space with 7 hours, 52 minutes as spacewalks.
Over the years, Aldrin has written nine books, two of which are memoirs. The Moonwalker calls himself a “Global Statesman for Space” and continues to be an advocate for human space exploration.
He has stated his support for sending humans to Mars. According to his website, Aldrin has released “Cycling Pathways to Mars” a plan to land crews on Mars by 2035. The plan uses Bigelow BA330s, inflatable exploration module in low-Earth orbit and cis-lunar space. The idea is to have a “cycler” spacecraft that would travel between Earth and Mars. Along with the “Aldrin Mars Cycler,” some of his other technical concepts include three U.S. patents and a reusable rocket booster design for the next generation of space travel.
This article was written with the assistance of Curt Godwin, Heather Smith, Scott Johnson and Jason Rhian. As more information becomes available SpaceFlight Insider will provide additional updates. Below is the link to the public document detailing the lawsuit. This article was updated at 1:26 p.m EDT to include a quote from Andrew and Jan Aldrin
Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a blog about the International Space Station, called Orbital Velocity.