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How Far Would You Go for an Instagram Handle?

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Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photo: Issarawat Tattong/Getty Images

You really never know what is going to rocket someone to internet fame — huge families, huge penises, or, often, huge mistakes. The latter certainly appears to be true for Katherine Asplundh, an aspiring influencer who is rapidly gaining fame not for homesteading in a minimalist Los Angeles kitchen or organizing her fridge within an inch of its life — but for allegedly trying to bully a random woman on Instagram into selling her handle. Oh, also? Dr. Oz and Tracy Anderson are apparently both Asplundh’s distant in-laws. What on earth is going on here? Let me explain.

Wait, who is Katherine Asplundh?

Katherine Asplundh — née Driscoll — is a 20-something-year-old small-time influencer who hails from New Jersey and graduated from the College of Charleston in 2021. She has somewhere around 80,000 followers on TikTok where she has spent the past two years posting pretty run-of-the-mill influencer content — travel vlogs, day-in-the-life videos at the sprawling New Jersey farmhouse she and her fiancé purchased last year, and extensive wedding prep (more on that in a second).

What did Asplundh allegedly do?

Two weeks ago, Katherine married a guy named Cabot Asplundh in Palm Beach, Florida. Beyond the groom’s name, there was nothing all that weird about their nuptials — until a few days later when an anonymous redditor on r/NYCinfluencersnark shared screenshots of messages that purported to show Katherine bullying her into handing over the Instagram handle that matched her new married name.

The poster wrote that she uses the @katherineasplundh username to “archive photos I don’t want to post on my main account.” The screenshots appear to show Katherine reaching out from her own username, @katherinedrisc, and offering to buy the other woman’s handle, then becoming increasingly hostile when she couldn’t convince her to do so. When the woman says that selling her handle could get her banned from Instagram, Katherine appears to suddenly pivot to accusing her of having a fake name. “I actually don’t believe that your name is Katherine Asplundh,” she seemingly writes, explaining that her family-by-marriage are “the only asplundh family in the US” — to which the woman responds that she isn’t American. Undeterred, Katherine supposedly goes so far as to demand proof of the woman’s name and says she and her new husband are reporting her for falsifying her identity. “I really hope I don’t know you because that’s gonna be really embarrassing for you,” one message reads.

Naturally, once images of the alleged conversation made it onto the internet, Katherine did not win any fans. A bunch of vindictive posters started making fake Instagram accounts to use up all the other possible variations of Katherine Asplundh’s name that she could have resorted to. According to the Daily Mail, other sleuths have found an old, since-deleted video where Katherine allegedly made fun of new wives who immediately change their last names on Instagram and predicted she would “wait a couple months” to change hers.

As for Katherine herself, she has deactivated the Instagram account formerly known as @katherinedrisc. Instead, videos of her honeymoon with Cabot have rolled out on her TikTok page, where she uses the handle @lostetiquette (which, if you think about it, is a better moniker for an influencer posting wedding inspo anyway).

Who are the Asplundhs?

While we’re here, let’s take a minute to unpack who exactly is behind the last name Katherine is so intent on using on Instagram. Her husband, Cabot, a 27-year-old Pennsylvanian whom she met while studying abroad in Prague, is the heir to a multibillion-dollar tree-management business. According to Forbes, Asplundh Tree Expert — which the Daily Mail claims was founded by Cabot’s Swedish great-grandfather Carl and his two brothers in 1928 — specializes in clearing vegetation and paring back tree growth for electric and telecom companies, municipalities, pipelines, and railroads. The company also does a bunch of other infrastructure maintenance that revolves around trees (and, amid all this controversy, tabloids have managed to deduce that the Asplundh family business apparently was once fined $95 million for allegedly hiring undocumented workers).

Cabot’s father, Matt, has been the CEO for the past few years, though it’s not clear if the younger Asplundh plans to be involved in the family business — a LinkedIn account for a Pennsylvania-based Cabot Asplundh identifies him as a research intern at a pharmaceutical consulting group.

And how does former Senate candidate and celebrity surgeon Dr. Oz fit in?

I’m so glad you asked. Dr. Oz is married to Lisa Lemole, who the Daily Mail claims is the granddaughter of one of the three Swedish brothers who co-founded the business. Also married to an Asplundh: celebrity fitness trainer Tracy Anderson, who married Chris Asplundh in 2021. It’s unclear how, exactly, Chris Asplundh is connected to the tree-clearing Asplundhs, but the tabloids all seem to agree there’s a relation. Katherine Asplundh does seem to have some kind of relationship with Anderson — the Daily Mail claims that her now-deleted LinkedIn profile said she worked as a social-media specialist for the trainer, and her wedding-day vlog involved Anderson allegedly inviting her over for an 8 a.m. Pilates class. Do you think they’re sharing a PR crisis consultant?

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Danielle Cohen , 2024-05-10 22:20:51

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