If you’re familiar with the name Anna Delvey or Anna Sorokin, then Shonda Rhimes’ upcoming miniseries Inventing Anna is probably firmly on your radar.
If you’ve not heard the name Anna Delvey or Anna Sorokin, then Inventing Anna should absolutely be on your radar because the story is one of the craziest and most captivating you are likely to hear.
The miniseries will star Ozark‘s Julia Garner as Delvey/Sorokin, with Anna Chlumsky, Arian Moayed, Katie Lowes, Alexis Floyd, Anders Holm, Anna Deavere Smith, Jeff Perry, Terry Kinney and Laverne Cox also in the cast.
The official synopsis for the series reads: “In Inventing Anna, a journalist with a lot to prove investigates the case of Anna Delvey, the Instagram-legendary German heiress who stole the hearts of New York’s social scene — and stole their money as well. But is Anna New York’s biggest con woman or is she simply the new portrait of the American dream? Anna and the reporter form a dark, funny love-hate bond as Anna awaits trial and our reporter fights the clock to answer the biggest question in NYC: who is Anna Delvey?”
It’s a valid question, and one we will attempt to answer here, so prepare yourself for this stranger than fiction story.
Who Is Anna Delvey?
Anna Delvey purported to be a German heiress who was in the process of launching a chain of Soho House-style members clubs that focused on art, with locations in L.A., London, Hong Kong, and Dubai.
Delvey set up shop at a boutique hotel in downtown Soho, New York, where she would slip the hotel staff $100 bills to essentially run her errands, set up her meetings (which always took place at expensive restaurants around Manhattan) and to basically keep her company.
She was always fairly vague about the source of her wealth, telling some people that her father was a diplomat and others that he was an oil baron and that she had a fortune of more than USD$60 million overseas.
Because she was so charming and convincing in her role, not to mention always surrounded by the right people such as CEO’s, investors and celebrities, people believed her story and were forgiving of her often odd behaviour.
What Did She Do?
Keeping up the story that she wanted to open a members-only art club, Delvey began working her way through an impressive little black book of powerful people who could see her idea come to fruition.
Notably, she formed a friendship with Gabriel Calatrava — son of legendary architect Santiago Calatrava — who tried to help her to secure the lease on a 45,000 square foot space in Manhattan where her arts club, to be called the Anna Delvey Foundation, was to be set up. In reality, the space was leased by the Swedish photography museum Fotografiska.
As written in the New York Times, Delvey also “gained access to André Balazs, the hotelier; Roo Rogers, the British-American entrepreneur; and Aby Rosen, the real estate developer.” She was also “friends” with notorious “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli.
As one hotel employee, who was interviewed by Jessica Pressler for her exposé of Delvey for The Cut, “Anna knew everyone.”
Who Did She Scam?
In reality, Anna Delvey was actually Anna Sorokin — a Russian grifter who scammed her way through New York’s high society, leaving a trail of confused friends and investors and a pile of unpaid bills. Essentially, to meet Anna Delvey was to be scammed by her.
Several of Sorokin’s friends reported that she would ask them to foot the bill for various expenses such as flights, meals and taxis on their credit cards because she always paid cash for everything. Believing her to be extremely wealthy, they would happily oblige and then find themselves out of pocket.
Sorokin, as Delvey, also racked up tens of thousands of dollars in hotel bills at 11 Howard and the Beekman Hotel, always with the promise of wire transfers that never seemed to materialise.
She also left friend Rachel Williams, a photo editor at Vanity Fair, to foot the USD $62,000 bill for a trip to Morocco when her own credit cards were declined, forged financial documents using Photoshop in an attempt to get a USD $22 million loan for her arts club and persuaded a bank to lend her USD $100,000, which she never repaid.
All in all, Sorokin was able to steal around USD $275,000 to fund her lavish (and fake) lifestyle, although she attempted to take much more.
How Did She Get Caught?
Eventually, Sorokin’s lies caught up with her as the people around her got tired of her empty promises and unpaid tabs.
The Beekman and the W Hotel both filed charges against Sorokin for theft of services and she was arrested in July 2017, released, and then arrested once more in October the same year.
She was offered a plea deal with a sentence of three to nine years in prison but decided to take her chances with a trial which resulted in her being sentenced to four to 12 years in prison on four counts of theft of services, three counts of grand larceny and one count of attempted grand larceny. She was acquitted of grand larceny and attempted grand larceny which would have resulted in stricter sentencing.
Where is Anna Sorokin Now?
Sorokin was released from prison, after serving four years, in February 2021.
She has previously told The New York Times that she was not sorry for the things she did, only for the way she had handled certain situations, ultimately conceding “I’m not a good person.”
Thanks to Netflix acquiring the rights to adapt her life story into the upcoming miniseries, Sorokin earned USD $320,000 which she was required to use to pay restitution to her victims.
During an interview with the New York Times before her release from behind bars, Sorokin said she had started writing a memoir about her exploits in New York and was planning another detailing her experience at Rikers Island maximum-security prison.
Sorokin is now back in jail, currently in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody where she faces deportation charges for overstaying her visa.
Inventing Anna will land on Netflix in February 2022, with an exact date still to be announced.