She’s been dubbed the SoHo grifter, and even more kindly a modern day Jay Gatsby, but for Anna Sorokin, whose life is about to be chronicled in the highly anticipated Shondaland Netflix show Inventing Anna, she’s nothing more than the embodiment of the American dream.
More commonly known as Anna Delvey, she’s the New York City socialite that swindled Manhattan’s party people out of nearly $275,000 USD through a web of lies, deception and manipulation, straight out of a Machiavellian handbook.
“She’s actually really sweet,” Julia Garner (who is portraying Anna in the upcoming show) described in an interview with Town & Country.
“She’s very gentle. But then her voice gets less soft-spoken when she wants something.” Just reading that sends shivers down our spine.
Anna’s story is so complex that it almost has to be seen to be believed, so ahead of the limited series, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about the convicted schemer.
Who Is Anna Delvey?
Anna Delvey, whose legal name is Anna Sorokin is a 30-year-old Russian con artist who from 2013-2016 fraudulently pretended to be a wealthy German heiress to cheat New York City’s upper echelon (including socialites, hotels and banks) for her own financial gain.
Delvey’s origins are fairly unknown, but it’s been revealed the Moscow native moved to Germany at the age of 16, before moving to London to study at Central Saint Martins with goals of pursuing a career in fashion. In 2013, she landed a coveted internship at French fashion magazine Purple, under the guise of ‘Anna Delvey’, a well connected, highly regarded member of the exclusive style scene with a background of hailing from a wealthy, European aristocratic family.
Upon moving to New York, Delvey began an elaborate scheme that involved manipulating some of Manhattan’s wealthiest under the impression that she was set to inherit a small fortune of $60,000,000 USD.
With her enviable designer wardrobe, celebrity connections and seemingly endless cash flow that she flaunted whenever possible, Delvey was welcomed into the exclusive fold, showering her friends with luxury dinners, high-class party invitations and ritzy holidays that rival that of a trust-fund child.
Yet none of this salubrious crowd seemed to know how, or more importantly where, the money came from.
What Is The Anna Delvey Foundation?
Delvey’s delusions of grandeur culminated with the creation of the Anna Delvey Foundation, a SoHo House-esque private members club and art foundation on the Upper East Side.
According to The Cut, Delvey dreamed of a “dynamic visual-arts center, with a rotating array of pop-up shops, exhibitions and installations from blue-chip artists like Urs Fischer, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, and Tracey Emin, two floors of hotel rooms, three restaurants, a juice bar, and a German bakery”.
In her quest to create the ADF, Delvey consequently conned Fortress and City National Bank of over $150,000USD by forging fake cheques and bank statements, a method called cheque kiting, in the hopes of obtaining a $2,200,000 loan.
But her corruption didn’t end there. Using the same technique, Delvey swindled New York institutions like the 11 Howard, The Beekman and The Mercer Hotel of almost $50,000USD worth in theft of services.
Delvey’s process of forging and depositing fake cheques and taking advantage of the float period to withdraw cash is what funded her lavish lifestyle.
How Did Anna Delvey Get Caught?
Delvey first aroused suspicion in 2015, when her then-friend, Chinese art collector Michael Xufu Huang, funded her all-expenses paid trip to the Venice Biennale under the impression that he would be repaid at a later date. No such payments were ever made.
Later in 2017, Delvey invited ex-best Friend Rachel DeLoache Williams (a former Vanity Fair photo editor) on a trip to Marrakech. Delvey claimed she needed time out of the country to reset her visa.
That’s when things began to unravel for the fake heiress. After claiming she chartered a private jet and booked a resort for the occasion, DeLoache Williams inevitably was forced to front all of the fees, totalling upwards of $60,000USD (which is more than she was paid in an entire year).
Sensing something was up, DeLoache Williams hastily left Morocco and ceased contact with Delvey. That was until she was approached by a police officer working with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office who had begun to build a case against Delvey.
Whilst Delvey was in Malibu at a psychiatric treatment facility, DeLoache Williams helped set up a sting operation which conned Delvey into leaving the centre and ultimately led her to arrest by law officials.
What Crimes Did Anna Delvey Commit?
Delvey was indicted in 2017, but didn’t appear in court until early 2019 where she was charged with various crimes, including grand larceny in the second degree, attempted grand larceny and theft of services.
Delvey was convicted in 2019 of eight criminal charges, sentenced to 4-12 years imprisonment, fined $24,000 USD and ordered to pay restitution of about $199,000 USD.
Where Is Anna Delvey Now?
Delvey was released on parole from prison in February this year, after serving just 3 years of her 12 year sentence.
After resuming her Instagram account and gallivanting around New York, (while also offering interviews and being followed by a film crew), Delvey is currently being held by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement in New Jersey and is facing deportation back to Germany.
Delvey was paid almost $400,000USD by Netflix for the rights to her story, with the series set to be released in early 2022. Under the Son of Sam law, Delvey is unable to profit of any subsequent publicity relating to her crimes.
Speaking to 60 Minutes in April, Delvey maintains that she “doesn’t see herself as a conwoman” and attests that she has never conned anyone.
Who landed the role of Anna Delvey in Inventing Anna?
As soon as Shonda Rhimes bought the rights to the Anna Delvey story, the role became one of the most coveted in Hollywood. It was Ozark star Julia Garner who landed it, and her performance is already creating awards buzz.
“I told Anna that it was my goal for people to see her as a person instead of a caricature,” Garner told marie claire Australia for our March 2022 issue. “They don’t have to agree with what she did, but they should be open and willing to understand why she did it. People make mistakes and Anna is a person.”