Inventing Anna: The Story Behind The Upcoming Series
On the surface, Anna Delvey’s life appeared to be perfect. She was a glamorous, mysterious socialite who knew all the right people. Wearing the best designer clothes, traveling frequently, dining at the finest restaurants – just a regular Tuesday for Anna Delvey. However, Delvey had a secret that could implode this seemingly perfect life at any moment. She was penniless. Delvey presented herself to the world as a wealthy European heiress, but her house of cards crumbled when she was exposed in 2017. Consequently, she was charged with larceny and theft and apprehended in the same year. Earlier this year, she was released, having served her full 4-year sentence. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and review this fake heiress’s resume before a Netflix series based on her life is released!
If you were a New York socialite between 2013-2017, you probably heard of Anna Delvey before anyone else did. However, not much was known about her, even in this tight circle. She rarely spoke about her origins, and even when she did, she never told the same story twice.
While nobody knew her story, she carried herself like a wealthy, upper-class person from Europe, and that is what most assumed. People from these right-knit socialite circles reported that she was always at the right place at the right time.
The air of mystery seemed to work in Delvey’s favor. Apparently, it made her stand out and fit in more at the same time. Her lavish lifestyle fooled everybody for years. The ambiguous European origin story worked in her favor too.
She did not have a permanent address, and this was justified and explained by her European origins and the fact that she regularly traveled back “home” to the continent. Instead, she moved from hotel to hotel. Eventually, she moved into the Howard Hotel in Soho.
Fake it until you make it
Everyone at the time assumed she came from money, even the hotel staff. She would stay in hotels for months, which is something usually only those most privileged can afford, and her reputation as a generous tipper followed her everywhere.
At this point, Delvey was so popular that the Howard Hotel staff did not even ask for a credit card when she arrived. Instead, they all fought to bring her room service as she was consistently reported to give a $100 tip. IN CASH.
Money speaks louder than words
Because of her generous tipping habits, people assumed she was incredibly rich. She handed out $100 bills like it was pocket change. Howard Hotel’s concierge said, “people would fight to take her packages upstairs.” Nobody knew where the money came from…
… and they did not care to ask. The hotel’s concierge, Neffatri Davis, known as Neff, soon became one of her closest friends. As their friendship grew, Neff always questioned where the money came from and was intrigued by Delvey.
Fake it until you make it 2.0
As soon as Anna arrived, she left her signature big tip at the front desk and asked for recommendations. She wanted to know where to go and who to talk to. It was a little strange for a socialite of her reputation to be asking for recommendations.
If she knew all the big names, why ask the concierge where to go? These were some of Neff’s initial suspicions, but she shrugged them off as she assumed all Anna wanted was a friend. The two soon became very close.
After all, if there was anyone important in New York at the time, Delvey knew them or how to get to them. And for an aspiring cinematographer such as Neff, being in that crowd could not hurt. But this was a dangerous friendship for Neff.
She hesitated to make friends with guests. However, she caved in and befriended Delvey. She said when the two of them went out, Anna would not let her pay for anything. Neff reported she wouldn’t even let her reach for her credit card.
Fake it until you make it 3.0
Other than her generous tipping habits, Anna had a personal trainer and a life coach! Both cost her around $4,500 each. Combine that with her tipping reputation, and she looked like a princess on vacation from her European life.
At the same time, Delvey began hosting lavish dinner parties at a nearby French restaurant, Le Coucou. Her dinner guests included her many contacts around New York, from CEOs of major corporations to artists. Anyone who was anyone was there.
First signs of trouble?
Speaking of celebrity guests, Neff said that she found herself sitting next to Macauley Culkin, the Home Alone actor, at one of these parties. She described the feeling as both exciting and awkward. She felt a little out of place. One thing was certain…
… Anna had a way with people, and her contact list appeared endless. One of the first people to mark her as “sus” was Michael Xufu Huang, the museum founder and art collector. The pair met at an art show.
Trouble Trouble Trouble
Michael Xufu Huang said they hit it off at that art show so well that they decided almost immediately to fly to Italy together for the Venice Biennale. Things got a little weird at this point. However, Michael would not see the red flags until it was too late.
Anna asked him to charge the flight and the hotel on his credit card and promised she would pay him back. This was not a hefty sum for Michael, and he did not think about it twice. Given Anna’s reputation, he was convinced she was good for it.
Cash rules everything around me
What Michael did notice, however, was that Anna paid for everything in cash during their trip. While he did think it was strange, he did not write her off for it. Ignoring the first red flag, Micheal and Anna went back to New York.
Once they were back at the Big Apple, he also shrugged off that Anna forgot to pay him back for the itinerary she booked for them. As he considered her a fellow one-percenter, he just assumed this was a minor expense, and it slipped her mind.
Be careful what you wish for
The second red flag, however, could not be ignored. It was after her birthday party that Michael put together the missing pieces of the puzzle that was Anna Delvey. The alleged European heiress hired a PR company for the occasion.
The PR company was customary for socialites, and their task was to ensure that anyone who was important and influential showed up for the occasion. But after the birthday party, Delvey’s friends were in for a rude awakening. Anna forgot something.
PR and dash
Michael received a message after the party asking for Delvey’s contact details because she forgot to pay the bill – again. At this point, it was a pattern, not a minor inconvenience. Micheal could not disregard this clear warning sign.
People began to wonder: who was this girl exactly? Not paying the PR company after such a big party was questionable, to say the least. All the minor mysterious things about her were under scrutiny now, and her many friends wanted answers.
One of her friends claimed she was a daughter of a Russian diplomat who came from a wealthy family. Another said her father was in the oil business. Others seemed to be under the impression she came from a wealthy German family.
None of these stories added up. Each contradicted the other. It turned out her surname wasn’t even Delvey. While Anna obviously enjoyed the attention, this was not the kind of recognition she sought, and scrutiny was not what she was hoping for.
While the stories were being analyzed, another storm was brewing. Anna planned to establish an exclusive art club that would be named the Anna Delvey Foundation or the ADF. Her connections got her so far in life, and she planned to use them to make this project happen.
To make ADF happen, she hired a creative director to assist her with the club’s exclusive branding. She found a place on Park Avenue South that needed some restoration. To be precise, she needed a small million-dollar loan. Chump change, right?
Getting a small million-dollar loan as a fake heiress is no small enterprise. Anna was no stranger to borrowing or getting herself to the right people at the right time. But even for her, this turned out to be a laborious task.
She began fundraising for the foundation. The first step was to reach out to the creative director who helped her acquire the property. She asked the solicitor for a loan and vouched with her many assets overseas and her alleged trust funds.
Naturally, she promised to pay the money back. But Anna was not a woman of her word when it came to returning what she borrowed on good faith. At this point, her dinners became more frequent, and her fancy dinner guest list expanded.
One of her more affluent guests was Martin Shkreli, known within New York’s elite circles as the “Pharma bro.” He got the nickname after his company raised the price for essential medication they manufactured and got rich in the process.
The two got close, and Shkreli taught Anna some secrets of the trade. Anna did not hesitate to spill the tea later and use the information as leverage later. She wanted to make ADF happen by any and all means necessary.
Anna had a way with people. Everyone who met her said so. She made the wealthy big pharma CEO fall under her spell too, much like many artists and socialites. Shkreli said, “even though I was nationally known, I felt like a computer geek next to her.”
However captivating and alluring she was to the socialites, stories and rumors circulating around her persona started to catch up with her. Especially with cash. One night on the town, Neff noticed Anna tried a dozen of different credit cards…
… and all of them were declined. This got the concierge to look into her many alleged assets abroad, and the credit card used to check into her place of work. She realized she hadn’t paid for the bill and that they didn’t have her credit card.
Beginning of the end?
Because of her reputation in the Big Apple, she was automatically considered as a VIP guest. As such, Delvey agreed she would wire transfer the money to the hotel as soon as possible. But over a month had passed, and the bill was unpaid.
As Neff and Anna became close during her stay at the Howard Hotel, the manager asked the concierge to handle this delicate situation. Anna ramped up a $30,000 bill at the prestigious hotel, and everybody involved assumed she was good for it.
Neff had her suspicions, but she still believed Anna was able to settle the debt. She assumed this would be just a gentle reminder and that the payment had fallen through the cracks. She was oblivious to the extent of Anna’s financial problems.
After their conversation, Anna promised to wire the money she owed, and a few days later, the bill was paid. Anna was out of the woods, for now. However, she was on thin ice with hotel management. They were watching her.
Give credit where credit is due
Anna was digging herself into a hole. The management was now suspicious of her. She still refused to provide them with a valid credit card or an account number, and the bills kept pouring in. They decided to take drastic measures.
The management informed her that they needed her to see her credit card, or they would be forced to change the entry code for her room. There was something wrong with Anna’s credit cards already, and she could not provide them with one.
Entry code drama
The hotel made a risky move, but ultimately, the right one. They, unlike Anna, made good on their promise and changed the entry code to her room. Shocked by the consequences of her murky actions, Anna reacted furiously and fast.
This was when her friendship with Shkreli came in handy. She remembered she could get out of this situation by faking it until she made it. She resorted to threatening managers. However, the interaction did not quite go her way.
She threatened she would purchase all domains relating to their brand so that they would have to buy it off her. The management of Howard called her bluff and evicted her after all. At the same time, her planned visit to Morocco was approaching.
She went to Morocco with her personal trainer and videographer, Rachel, who had to go back to the USA earlier than planned because of food poisoning. But a few days after her return and during her recovery, Rachel got a phone call from Anna.
Greetings from Morocco
Surprise, surprise! The phone call was about another bill she could not pay. The trainer had not heard of the rumors yet, apparently, because she provided the Morrocan hotel with her credit card. When it declined, the hotel assumed it was their problem.
Given that two socialites’ cards were declined, the hotel thought there was an issue on their end. For the time being, Anna was still safe. However, this did not teach Anna the lesson she needed, and she kept pushing her luck.
Some people never learn…
When Anna returned to the United States, she stayed at another New York hotel. Her aura of mystery was now replaced with a cloud of suspicion. She accrued an unpaid bill of around $11,000 and was ultimately kicked out of her hotel room again.
However, this time, the hotel was not in the mood to do the whole song and dance with her. They immediately confiscated her belongings. This was when things took a dark turn, and it turned dark faster than Anna could handle.
Anna was officially homeless at this point. Her friends were suspicious, and she was out of luck. She begged her personal trainer to take her in, but the trainer caught on that something was not right. Eventually, Anna threatened to take her life.
While the threat was vague, it was enough for Rachel to cave in and offer a temporary shelter to a former friend in need. The Morocco bill was still looming in the air, and the hotel management there was getting frustrated.
Dark mode: on
The bill would fall on Rachel, as Anna’s assets were frozen. Rachel was threatened with jail time and forced to pay the entire amount. But for a personal trainer, this was no minor or inconsequential nuisance. This was her whole year’s salary.
The sum was $62,000. While a personal trainer earns a decent living, this was no small sum to pay. Rachel was furious. In her rage, she started questioning everything Anna told her about her identity and questioned her origin story.
Prison is a state of mind?
Anna was consequently arrested for not paying her hotel bills. The information of her arrest was blasted all over the news. She was forced to hire a lawyer who managed to get her released on bail. She immediately decided to get away.
Up to her usual antics, Anna, the faux rich girl, ran off on another “vacation,” this time to California. She was arrested again in Malibu and returned to New York to deal with the mess tried she tried to leave behind her.
Game over, for real
In New York, she was facing charges for grand larceny and theft of services. This time, there was no option for bail. Her real name was exposed too. She was not Anna Delvay but Russian-born with German citizenship named Anna Sorokin.
Her family had moved to Germany for work. Anna was not a lavish heiress but from a working-class family. There were no million-dollar assets overseas as she’d claimed, and there was no trust fund. All the debts were going to be left unpaid.
Anna was recently released from prison after serving a minimum sentence of four years. According to her Instagram page, she bought all “Anna Delvey” internet domains and is trying to reinvent herself as Anna Delvey 2.0. She calls herself the “professional defendant.”
Allegedly, Anna defrauded several people, banks, and hotels. The approximate number is in the ballpark of $275,000. She falsified documents to get multiple loans. In the falsified documents, she was presented as a person who owned several million dollars in assets.
How had she done it?
Given that the banks had insufficient proof of her assets, they assumed she was wealthy because of the company she kept during those years, they granted her loans. Similarly, hotels were fooled. She used the loan money to throw those 100-dollar bills around, creating the illusion of richness.
Whether the fake wealthy heiress would pay it off if her business took off is unclear. She denies attempting to pass herself off as a socialite. She claimed the dinners were for work and that there were better ways to make money fast.
Time in jail
Anna did not waste time behind bars. She invited the public to write to her while she was on Riker’s Island. She did not shy away from nor was she deterred by the negative feedback. She said most of it was supportive because people think prison is a horrible place.
She saw the whole thing as a social experiment as, at the time, it was not clear how much of her life she would spend there. While in prison, she took on a new hobby too – writing. Memoires were probably a good direction to go. But a biography had already been written by her ex-friend, Rachel.
Anna plans to write one book about her lifestyle and experiences as a socialite in New York. We bet she has some stories to tell about the company she was said to keep. If you remember, her company ranged from actors to CEOs.
The other book is allegedly about her time in prison, and her experiences as an inmate at Rikers. She also made small investments in technology and cryptocurrency, undoubtedly a piece of advice she got from one of her friends in high places.
Speaking of her friends at high places, rumor has it that she received professional fashion advice from Anastasia Walker herself. Walker is a professional stylist who worked with many household names in the industry, such as Madonna, Kanye West, and even Travis Scott!
Apparently, she was the one who gave Anna advice on what to wear during the trial. Anna’s outfits were a big point of contention during the proceedings. Once, she refused to walk out because she insisted her tan prison-issued suit was horrible.
Highs and lows
Other times, she would walk out in high-value brand clothing she presumably got either from her socialite days or from the few friends she still had. Take, for example, the infamous Yves Saint Laurent blouse and Victoria Beckham pants she wore once to court.
However, not everyone shared the fascination of the former socialite. Some of her former friends were now enemies. During the trial, she showed no sympathy for the trainer she defrauded. The trainer described the Morocco incident as one of the worst moments of her life.
Rachel might get something out of this whole mess after all. Reportedly, she secured the deal with HBO and with Simon & Schuster to tell her side of the story, which might cover some of the Morocco bill forced onto her by her former friend.
On the other hand, Anna is reported to have a biographical show in the making by Netflix. Rumor has it that the renowned director Shonda Rhimes might be the name behind the production. Rhimes is a big name in the TV industry.
Rhimes produced series such as Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and Private Practice. Netflix could not pass on this opportunity to tell the story of New York’s most infamous socialite of the early 21st century. But who would play this character?
Anna expressed her desire to have Jennifer Lawrence or Margot Robbie portray her character. The production considered Lindsey Lohan for the role, as it might revive her career, and the actress could relate to incarceration and scrutiny of the public eye.
In the end, it seems like the TV mini-series will be produced by legendary Shonda Rhimes and available on Netflix sometime between the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022. The actress portraying Anna will be Ozark’s Julia Garner.
Neff will be played by Alexis Floyd, known for her role as a side character in the Bold Type. “Pharma bro” Martin Shkreli will be played by Saamer Usmani, famous for his role in What/If. And lastly, Rachel will be portrayed by Katie Lowes from Scandal.
Highs and lows
While Anna has a show in the making based on her, it does not mean her release has been all roses and rainbows. After she was released from prison in February of 2021, she was almost immediately apprehended by ICE.
Immigration and Costumes Enforcement (ICE) took Anna Sorokin back into custody a month later, in March, for overstaying her visa. As of September 2021, she was still reported to be in ICE custody in New Jersey, awaiting deportation to Germany.
Once upon a time in New York
We don’t know what’s next for the fake heiress who shook New York’s elite. However, this crazy life story is sure worthy of both a TV series deal and a memoir. Well, two if she feels inspired. And she does not show signs of slowing down.
Moreover, the star-packed cast of the series ensures it will pique even more curiosity from those who have not heard of the socialite back in 2017. With Shonda Rhimes herself producing it, Anna Delvey 2.0 is set for another influx of post-prison Instagram followers!