For a solid five years, Anna Sorokin went by the name of Anna Delvey. To most people, she was a wealthy German heiress who loved to live the Manhattan high life. There was only one problem. Anna Delvey was not a German heiress, she barely had a penny to her name, and her “high life” ended up costing others hundreds of thousands of dollars. Eventually, Anna’s charade would crumble and she would do time behind bars, but for a while, she had pulled the wool over the wealthy, the rich and famous, and made no qualms about it. Let’s take a look at what happened and where Anna Delvey is now because of it.
“I’M NOT A GOOD PERSON”
Those were the words Anna Sorokin spoke from behind bars at Riker’s Island while she awaited sentencing on charges that included grand larceny, attempted grand larceny, and theft of services. “My motive was never money,” she said to The New York Times. “I was power-hungry.” Power-hungry, money-hungry, in the end, it all becomes the same thing. But how did she get there? How did Anna Sorokin, a Russian immigrant from Germany, find her way to the Manhattan elite and how did she pull off scam after scam, convincing friends, acquaintances, and the powers that be that she was one of them?
Anna Delvey was born Anna Sorokin in Domodedovo, Russia on January 23, 1991. The first 15 years of her life were spent in Russia and when she was 16, her family moved to North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. After graduating from school in 2011, Sorokin briefly moved to London to attend an art school but dropped out and returned to Germany. After interning for a public relations company in Berlin, Sorokin then headed out to Paris where she started an internship at the French fashion magazine, Purple. It was around this time that Anna Sorokin now began to be known as Anna Delvey. She said the name change was based on her mother’s maiden name, though her parents both said they did not recognize it. Anna later confessed that she “just came up” with the Delvey name.
Not long after starting her internship in France, Anna traveled to New York City for the 2013 New York Fashion Week. She was mesmerized. Anna found the social scene more welcoming in the City than what she had in Germany or France, so she decided New York (and America) was the place to be. She briefly transferred to Purple’s New York office but decided there was more for her in Manhattan than just working for Purple. She quit and began working on her plan to create the Anna Delvey Foundation. This was to be a private members club and art foundation. She had big aspirations for this “foundation” and tried to get funding from a number of Manhattan’s wealthiest.
Among Anna’s plans was to lease out the entire six-floor, 45,000 square-foot Church Missions House, a building that was owned by billionaire real estate tycoon Aby Rosen. Anna claimed she planned on using it as an art studio and multi-purpose events venue. She was bringing in heavy hitters from the art scene like Daniel Arsham, Urs Fischer, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, and Tracey Emin. She was enlisting the help of the son of architect Santiago Calatrava. She was even talking with British-American entrepreneur Roo Rogers about the sale of drinks at her venue. Somehow, Anna convinced all these people that she had a trust fund worth 60 million euros and they all bought it, hook, line, and sinker.
But as Anna was soon to find out, talk is cheap. These potential investors wanted to see her produce something before they would actually buy into her dream. According to Anna, she was concerned that because she was a young woman, she would be vulnerable to those wealthy men who would first cheer her on and then take control of her vision for her foundation. So, instead, she moved from dreamer to the ultimate grifter.
As Anna Delvey, she took Manhattan by storm. She moved from one expensive boutique hotel to the next. She would constantly hand out $100 tips. She would wiggle her way out of paying bills by promising wire transfers that would never happen. She would set up expensive and lavish dinners at the most expensive restaurants and get out of paying those with “forgotten” credit cards. She would hire expensive trainers and wear the most expensive clothing from Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci. But Anna Delvey didn’t have a dime.
One of the first persons Anna Delvey bilked was Elle Dee, a Manhattan DJ. Delvey insinuated herself in Dee’s life quickly. Dee was introduced to Delvey by marketing director Tommy Saleh, who had come to Dee’s hotel room door to ask if Delvey could bunk with her for the night. He explained that Delvey was new to the states and she didn’t know anyone. But, as Dee explained, she was already sharing the room with two others and there was simply no room for Delvey.
The following morning, Dee went out to grab a cup of coffee and as she made her way through the parking lot, she saw Delvey sleeping in her car. Fearful that Delvey might be dead, she approached the car to make sure she was breathing, which she was. Red flags rose, but not enough for Dee to make waves.
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Dee’s future interactions with Anna Delvey were strange, to say the least. She would see Delvey from time to time and was even invited to a “dinner thing” that Dee says turned out to be a very awkward evening. The strangeness of the night ended when Delvey came to talk to Dee and show her pictures of a six-bedroom, rooftop apartment on the West Side that Delvey says she was going to rent. It was $12,000 a month.
The final time Dee had to deal with Delvey was another awkward situation. Dee was with her then-boyfriend during Paris Fashion Week. Dee had received a text from Delvey suggesting they should come to hang out with her and her friends at the Hotel Du Louvre. When the pair arrived, Dee says there were six people sitting in a near-empty room. Dee and her boyfriend found it really strange but they ordered their own drinks. Before things could get even weirder, Dee and her boyfriend left.
The next day, Dee says she received a call from Anna, which was weird because Anna never called, she only sent texts. When she answered the phone, Delvey was crying. She told Dee her credit card wasn’t working and the hotel staff was being rude to her and wouldn’t let her leave. She wanted to borrow money to be able to check out and she would pay Dee back when they all returned to the city. Dee asked how much she needed and Delvey told her €35,000. Of course, Dee didn’t have that kind of money. Delvey then asked if Dee’s boyfriend could loan it to her. Dee explained that there was no way she could ask her boyfriend to loan that much money. Dee said Delvey became instantly cold with her and that was the very last time she saw Delvey in person.
ANNA DELVEY NOW WANTED TO HEAD TO MOROCCO
It was in 2016 that Anna Delvey met Vanity Fair photo editor Rachel DeLoache Williams. It is not to say that Williams was immediately intrigued with Delvey, but suffice it to say that not long after their first meeting, Williams was started to become interested. The two began to meet for dinners and drinks, sometimes with friends, sometimes just the two. Williams, although having described her as rude, especially to those in the service industry, found Delvey likable, considering her a friend.
Delvey had explained to Williams that as a visiting German citizen, she did not have a full-time residence in New York, so she moved around quite a bit. The two became fast friends as they lived near each other in Manhattan. After some time, Delvey told Williams that she needed to go back to Germany before her visa expired. Williams wouldn’t see Delvey for almost a half year.
When Delvey returned, their friendship started up again. It was Delvey’s idea to take a vacation, explaining to Williams that she again needed to reset her visa. But instead of going home to Germany, she suggested they vacation somewhere else. Williams was keen on the idea and recommended they look into warm places that were within Williams’ budget. It was Anna who said Marrakech, a place she always wanted to visit. When Williams balked, Delvey said she’d cover all the costs. Delvey booked the five-star luxury resort, La Mamounia, and the plans were set. Delvey was covering the flights, the hotel (at $7,00 a night), and all expenses. Williams should have known something was amiss when a “minor snafu” had Williams purchasing the airfare on her own American Express card.
It was an amazing time. Anna Delvey spared no expense when it came to whatever they wanted to do. Food, shopping, private tennis lessons, you name it. But the red flags just kept popping up. Delvey’s own credit cards were constantly declined, forcing Williams to cover incidental costs. Finally, the hotel management stopped Delvey one morning on their way out. After that brief meeting, Williams asked her if things were okay. She just responded with a need to call her bank.
Things went from bad to worse. After an outing, the two returned to the hotel and two men were waiting for them. They insisted on payment, which they were not getting from Delvey. They followed Delvey and Williams back to their room so they could get a credit card that actually worked. With Delvey not having a working credit card, she asked Williams to use her card. The two men then pressured her to use it, saying that her card would not be charged.
Lesson learned, the hard way. Upon returning to New York, Williams found out that yes, her card was being hit for the total amount. Nearly $70,000. Williams was in a panic even though Delvey promised that she would wire the money to Williams. It never happened. Lies and more lies led to Williams doing what she says she should have done much earlier and that was to start investigating Delvey on her own. The more she dug, the more she knew just what Delvey was – a con artist.
It took some doing, but Williams finally got someone to listen. The New York County District Attorney’s Office responded to an email Williams sent with an attached link to an article about Delvey.
“THE THING IS, I’M NOT SORRY”
Anna Delvey is now Anna Sorokin and she has nothing to apologize for. At least in her eyes. She is not sorry for all the hurt she caused. She is not sorry for trying to bilk banks out of millions. She is not sorry for how she treated people, how she almost ruined Dee’s life or how she did ruin Williams’ life.
Sorokin would constantly go to banks for large sums of money. When they would turn her down, she would deposit fraudulent checks into her bank account. She deposited $160,000 of these checks into her Citibank account, taking out $70,000 in cash so she could pay off her outstanding $30,000 hotel bill. One time Sorokin sent a forged wire transfer from Deutsche Bank for $35,390 to book a charter flight on a business jet. Another time, towards the end of her run, she deposited another $15,000 of bad checks into her account and withdrew $8,200 of it before the checks were returned as bad.
“The thing is, I’m not sorry,” she said to The New York Times in a jailhouse interview. “I’d be lying to you and to everyone else and to myself if I said I was sorry for anything.” With Williams’ help, the Feds finally caught up to Sorokin in 2017. At the time, Sorokin had relocated to California, looking for more suckers to help fund her extravagant ways.
In 2019, after rejecting a number of plea deals, Sorokin went to court to face the music. She was found guilty on eight charges and not guilty on two others. Unfortunately, one of the charges she was found not guilty of was of the nearly $70,000 she got from Williams. Thankfully, the credit card company dismissed most of those charges for Williams.
THAT FIRST THING UPON HER RELEASE
When all was said and done, Anna Sorokin was sentenced to 4 to 12 years in state prison. She was also ordered to pay restitution of $199,000 which included amounts of $100,000 to City National Bank and $70,000 to Citibank. She was also fined another $24,000. Not having the money to pay these bills, Sorokin sold her story to Netflix for $320,000. These funds were used to repay all she owed.
In total, Anna Sorokin spent a little over 2 years in prison, released for good behavior. What was the first thing she did upon her release? Got on her phone and resumed her social media standing. Anna Delvey now began posting to her Instagram account as well as her Twitter.
Anna’s freedom, though, was short-lived. She was released from prison (on February 11, 2021) after serving nearly four years but a short six weeks after her release, she was back in custody for overstaying her visa. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) brought her in and since March 2021, she has remained. While in custody, Sorokin penned an essay saying via Town & Country, “It doesn’t look like I’ll be watching Inventing Anna anytime soon. Even if I were to pull some strings and make it happen, nothing about seeing a fictionalized version of myself in this criminal-insane-asylum setting sounds appealing to me.”
So many Anna’s. Anna Sorokin turned herself into Anna Delvey. Then, actress Anna Chlumsky (My Girl, Veep) starred in Inventing Anna, a nine-part mini-series for Netflix. The series closely details Sorokin’s life and how she ended up as Anna Delvey stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the New York elite. Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal) created the mini-series for Netflix and has Julia Garner (Ozark) playing Anna Delvey. Chlumsky plays Vivian, an investigative journalist tracking down the story.
Garner was able to visit Sorokin in prison before taking on the role and explained to Town & Country that “She’s [Anna Sorokin] actually really sweet, she was extremely charming. She’s very gentle. But then her voice gets less soft-spoken when she wants something.”
WHERE IS ANNA DELVEY NOW?
After spending over a year at an ICE detention center, Anna Sorokin was scheduled for deportation to Germany on February 17, 2022. But her lawyer, Manny Arora, filed an emergency appeal to stop the deportation. The appeal would keep Anna in the states for an extra 30-days while Arora continued to work on keeping her here permanently.
Currently, Sorokin continues to be held at an ICE detention center in Orange County. She sits in wait for the Board of Immigration Appeals to make their decision on her status. “It’s pretty, it’s very boring. It’s just like absolutely nothing to do in here,” she explained to NBC News’s Savannah Sellers. “And once a day, I have my tablet. So that’s how I keep in touch with everybody. So I’m just trying to keep busy with all the projects that I have going on. And hopefully I’ll be out of here very, very soon. And my lawyers are working on finding a way to get me out of here as soon as possible.”
Still, while in custody, Sorokin continues to make news. Her desire is to remain in New York and start rebuilding her life. She has signed on with Bunim-Murray Productions and will star in a limited docuseries that will show Sorokin’s life after prison.
“Anna’s story is very much alive and still unfolding as we speak. We’ve been developing this project with her for months now – and spent countless hours on phone and video calls with her,” Michal Driscoll, director of development at Bunim-Murray Productions told Deadline. “She is a complicated and fascinating character, and we are looking forward to telling the next chapter of her ever-evolving tale.”
Film is not the only outlet Sorokin has found. Her very first art exhibit, titled “Free Anna Delvey,” opened in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in March 2022, containing work from 33 artists inspired by Sorokin’s New York experience. The exhibit also includes five drawings from Sorokin herself.
“It’s ironic,” Delvey explained to The New York Times. “How after having failed so publicly while trying to build A.D.F. a couple of years ago, people are way more interested in hearing my voice now than they were back in 2017.” Sorokin even had a second art exhibit open at New York City’s Public Hotel and it contained 22 drawings by Sorokin. Apparently, Sorokin is also getting herself involved with NFTs.
One more thing Anna Sorokin intends on doing is shedding her “scammer persona” as Anna Delvey. As she explained to Sellers, even though she said she was not sorry for what she had done, “This was never something that I was trying to [be] or I wanted to be,” Delvey said. “This is, like totally, has been pushed upon me like by the prosecution and by the following media and by the Netflix show, but I’m trying to move away from that definitely.”
Then she said she was looking for another chance to make things right. “I just like hate seeing all the scammer and fake heiress headlines. So it’s not something I enjoy, like trying to lean in to promote. I’d love to be given an opportunity for people not to just dismiss me as a quote-unquote scammer.”
Everyone loves a good redemption story, don’t they? Apparently, Sorokin and her followers do and they are all doing everything they can to rewrite her story. Will it be enough? Will enough people be able to turn the other cheek to see her succeed? So far, there is not enough water under the bridge as of yet, but who knows what the future will hold. Sorokin first has to take care of a little matter with ICE before she can take that next step and she will have cameras following her every step of the way.