New York City has a reputation for being flashy and glamorous, full of celebrities, socialites, artists, and heirs. They encompass the trifecta of high class: money, fame, and scandal. And when Anna Delvey appeared on that social scene, socialites of every kind loved her.
In the sleepless city, she lived luxuriously, mixed comfortably with the stars of New York, and threw her cash around without a care in the world. Her new friends all expected for her to make it big, but when her name finally made headlines it left all of them floored…
Anna Delvey was the life of the party. She fit in with Manhattan’s elite effortlessly, but she certainly had secrets. Her accent led people to conclude she was European, and her wads of cash led people to conclude that she was very wealthy, despite being only 25. Who was this new socialite on the scene?
Anna’s story started on February 18, 2017, when she first checked in to 11 Howard, a fancy hotel in SoHo, Manhattan. Staff noticed her right away. After all, she tipped everyone $100 every time she saw them, and it was money that would pay off…
Anna quickly befriended a concierge who was roughly her same age. She asked Neff Davis from Crown Heights, Brooklyn for restaurant suggestions, but seemed to already know of every one that Neff suggested. “This was not a guest who wanted my advice, this was a guest who wanted my time.”
Neff didn’t mind spending time with Anna since she was grateful for her generous tips. Even the bellboys literally fought to help Anna because they knew that they would get a Benjamin. Anna threw cash around wherever she went.
Anna and Neff got along well and started visiting bars, restaurants, and clubs together, even mixing with artists like Guido Cacciatori, Gro Curtis, and Giorgia Tordini. Anna seemed particularly interested and knowledgeable in the world of fashion and art.
Anna knew how to climb up the social ladder, rung by rung, and kept working hard to meet even more famous, more wealthy, more successful people. She began hosting dinners and parties until all of her friends’ friends knew her name. But she always kept Neff nearby.
One night, thanks to Anna, Neff even found herself seated next to her childhood idol, Macaulay Culkin. “Which was awkward,” she said. “Because I had so many questions. And he was right there. Still, I never got the chance to be like, ‘So, your the godfather to Michael Jackson’s kids?'”
One of the closest friends Anna collected was Michael Xufu Huang, an art collector who founded his first museum at the age of 22. They planned a trip to Europe together, but Anna asked him to put flights and hotels on his credit cards, promising to pay him back… but she never did. That’s when her secrets started unraveling.
You see, Huang had seen Anna spend money, so he figured she’d be good for it. They had a great time in Venice, but when they returned, she never offered to pay him back. It didn’t seem too big of a deal, and she got away with it — this time.
It was a few weeks before her birthday when she hired a PR firm to throw her an unforgettable b-day bash at one of her favorite restaurants, Sadelle’s. When it came time to pay up, Anna was gone. The firm even contacted Huang to see if he knew where to find her, but he was just as stumped. But he knew one thing: Anna wasn’t someone he could trust anymore.
Huang began asking around to see if anyone had a deeper insight into Anna’s life. Not only did nobody know her whereabouts they also didn’t know her origin. Some assumed she was Russian, or Polish, or German. A few thought she came from oil money while others thought she was the child of a diplomat. The only thing they were certain about was her interest in parties and art.
Truthfully, Anna wasn’t just a socialite: she had a plan. She wanted to make the right contacts in the art world to set up an exclusive club with a focus on art. She had her eyes set on 281 Park Avenue South and would call it the Anna Delvey Foundation, or ADF.
Marc Kremers was a creative director and digital designer from London whom Anna convinced to work with her on the ADF. The club would have a German bakery, restaurants, a basement nightclub, an artist residency program, and roof terrace overlooking Central Park. He said at first she was “a pleasure to work with.”
But, after several months, the bills once again piled up, and Marc saw no money. “Hundreds of painful emails followed,” Mar said, “complete with fictitious financial managers CCed, who’d muscle in every-time I threatened to seek legal action. As a small business owner, it was a grueling ride and nearly shut us down.” The project was put on indefinite hold.
It was then that Anna met Martin Shkreli, an infamous businessman and hedge fund manager. He would soon be convicted of securities fraud, but not before giving Anna some tips.
Not long after, her hotel discovered that they didn’t have a working credit card on file and locked her out. She did what Martin advised and threatened to buy web domains in all the hotel managers names; in order to use them in the future, they would have to pay her tons of money. Her dark side was starting to show…
Things had gone awry for Anna. There was little progress with the ADF and she was moving from hotel to hotel while avoiding paying for anything. She literally fled the country by taking a trip to Morocco with her personal trainer and her friend, Vanity Fair‘s Rachel Deloache Williams.
Of course, Rachel never saw a dime. “She walked into my life in Gucci sandals and Céline glasses,” Rachel recalled, “and showed me a glamorous, frictionless world of hotel living and Le Coucou dinners and infrared saunas and Moroccan vacations. And then she made my $62,000 disappear.”
By July of 2017, everything had fallen apart. Anna was arrested for three counts of misdemeanor theft of services (including a dine-and-dash) and was released without bail. Now she had nowhere to go, and no one left to turn to — not even Neff. Her old friends staged an intervention and told her the ADF was sold. With nothing left to lose, she tried to escape once again.
Using the last of her money and her tricks, Anna traveled to California, where she tried to hide in a rehabilitation center. Meanwhile, back in New York, the press got hold of her story, and slowly but certainly, the mystery that was Anna Delvey began to unravel…
The truth was: Anna Delvey didn’t exist! Anna was really Anna Sorokin, a German-Russian girl from a working-class family. She tried attending the Central Saint Martins Art School in London but dropped out. She worked at Purple Magazine in Paris before moving to New York City at the age of 25. Anna Delvey got away with everything, but Anna Sorokin couldn’t.
In October of 2017, she was arrested on six charges of grand larceny for scamming wealthy NYC business acquaintances and several hotels. According to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, the damage was as high as $275,000. She rejected a plea deal and faced a 15-year prison sentence.
Once in Riker’s Island, Anna used her sly ways to befriend all the right prisoners. Perhaps that was how she learned how to post “throwback” pictures from jail because an old photo of her and Neff mysteriously appeared on her Instagram page.
TV producer and screenwriter Shonda Rhimes was set to produce a Netflix series detailing Anna’s scandalous New York adventures. While a couple actors have shown interest in the lead role, Anna stated she wanted Jennifer Lawrence or Margot Robbie to portray her. She actually seemed more worried about casting than her upcoming trial.
Anna conned friends and businesses out of $275,000, using falsified documents to get multiple bank loans. She floated bad checks and took out lines of credit. The plan was to pay it all back with money from the ADF, but the money never came. Still, with her skills, she could come out of prison an even smarter criminal mastermind.