Buzz Aldrin’s fam­ily feud

The liv­ing leg­end’s legacy is un­der threat in a bit­ter bat­tle over his mil­lions

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - Contents -

‘Fam­ily is for­ever and I will for­ever be try­ing to patch it up’

For­mer as­tro­naut Buzz Aldrin, 88, feels “younger and more en­er­getic” than ever, yet he’s been forced to de­fend him­self in court against two of his three chil­dren, ac­cus­ing them of el­der abuse, steal­ing money and con­spir­acy.

The sec­ond man on the moon has also ac­cused son An­drew, 60, and daugh­ter, Jan­ice, 51, of sab­o­tag­ing his re­la­tion­ships and re­fus­ing to let him re­marry in a shock­ing fam­ily feud, which he says is de­stroy­ing his rep­u­ta­tion – and life.

Even after Buzz was found to be “cog­ni­tively in­tact” and re­tain­ing “all forms of de­ci­sional ca­pac­ity” by UCLA Med­i­cal School pro­fes­sor of psy­chi­a­try, Dr An­drew Spar, the pair pe­ti­tioned a court to gain con­trol of his fi­nances.

‘SADDEST THING’

“I re­ally felt that it re­ally didn’t need to come to this,” the Apollo 11 hero said in an in­ter­view with Good Morn­ing Amer­ica last month. “It’s the saddest thing that ever hap­pened in my fam­ily. But as I’ve seen, fam­ily is for­ever and I will for­ever be try­ing to patch it up.”

An­drew and Jan­ice al­lege their fa­ther is in “cog­ni­tive de­cline”, para­noid and con­fused be­cause he is suf­fer­ing from de­men­tia. They are seek­ing co-guardian­ship over their dad, which would give them con­trol of his fi­nances.

But Buzz is su­ing them for el­der ex­ploita­tion, fraud and slan­der, claim­ing they are just try­ing to get ac­cess to his $16 mil­lion for­tune.

“I learned at West Point [Mil­i­tary Acad­emy] and the mil­i­tary and at NASA to trust peo­ple,” he said dur­ing the in­ter­view. “I trust peo­ple too much. I’ll ad­mit that.”

The drama be­gan after Buzz fell ill and had to be evac­u­ated dur­ing a 2016 ex­pe­di­tion to Antarc­tica. His chil­dren then started to limit what he could and couldn’t do, and the space leg­end be­lieves they seized their op­por­tu­nity to get their hands on his hard-earned cash.

Buzz claims An­drew and for­mer busi­ness man­ager Christina Korp “have as­sumed con­trol” of the funds from his com­pany “for their own self-dealing and en­rich­ment” – al­leg­ing An­drew trans­ferred $500,000 from Buzz’s bank ac­count into his own over a two-year pe­riod. “I was hop­ing that what­ever the dif­fer­ences are could be worked out, but it ap­pears as though it wasn’t mov­ing in that di­rec­tion,” says Buzz. “So we just had to not lie over and go to sleep. We had to take a po­si­tion. It’s re­ally in­com­pre­hen­si­ble that they would do this.”

STRONG RE­LA­TION­SHIP

Christina de­clares she is be­ing “un­fairly de­famed” by Buzz, and An­drew and Jan­ice said in a state­ment that they “are deeply dis­ap­pointed and sad­dened by the un­jus­ti­fied law­suit”.

They added, “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.”

Buzz’s three chil­dren, in­clud­ing son James who is not in­volved in the law­suit, are from his first mar­riage to Joan Archer.

The cou­ple wed in 1954 and were to­gether when the as­tro­naut took part in the his­toric first moon land­ing in 1969. Buzz was the lu­nar mod­ule pi­lot on Apollo 11 and set foot on the moon 20 min­utes after mis­sion com­man­der Neil Arm­strong.

HIGHS & LOWS

Buzz left NASA two years later in 1971 and re­turned to the Air Force. But he has re­vealed that he strug­gled with al­co­holism and de­pres­sion dur­ing his ca­reer.

He is still in­volved in the ad­vo­cacy of space ex­plo­ration and was at the White House for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s an­nounce­ment to cre­ate the “Space Force” as a new mil­i­tary branch. More re­cently, Buzz has made ap­pear­ances in The Big Bang The­ory and Trans­form­ers: Dark of the Moon, and he owns Buzz Aldrin En­ter­prises and runs the Shares­pace Foun­da­tion.

Daugh­ter Jan The ex-as­tro­naut says his daugh­ter is not act­ing in his fi­nan­cial in­ter­ests...

Son An­drew ...and has asked a judge to re­move An­drew from con­trol of his fi­nan­cial af­fairs.

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