The Untold Truth Of Anna Delvey

It's the sort of story that reads a bit like a semi-fictional tale plucked from, perhaps, the late 19th century. It stars a wealthy heiress, setting up alongside New York City's elite, counting out cash in exchange for attention and becoming a youthful yet eccentric fixture. Pretty straightforward so far, right? Neffatari Davis, a concierge at Soho's 11 Howard hotel, described this mysterious heiress to The Cut as classist yet charismatic, saying, "She ran that place. You know how Rihanna walks out with wine glasses? That was Anna. And they let her. Bye, Ms. Delvey ..."

Davis ended up befriending the woman, and according to her, it was a pretty wild ride. The woman was friendly with celebrities, artists, fashion designers, business moguls — traveling with her was like traveling through a who's who of New York City elite ... until suddenly, it wasn't. Inquiries into unpaid bills raised the first of the red flags, and the saga that unfolded was so bizarre that of course it got a Netflix special.

Anna Delvey turned out to be Anna Sorokin, and she definitely wasn't the wealthy socialite she had convinced so many people she was. She was arrested and convicted of financial crimes (including grand larceny) and served the minimum of her potential sentence — four years. And the details that didn't make it into many of the headlines are just as weird as the ones that did.

How the story of Anna Delvey began

Though Anna Delvey had been on the social scene in Europe for a few years, she emerged on the scene in New York in early 2017, when she checked into the chic 11 Howard Hotel in the trendy Soho neighborhood.

Per The Cut, she immediately made an impression on staff by befriending numerous workers and handing out wildly generous tips. "People would fight to take her packages upstairs," explained Neffatari Davis, who worked as one of the concierges at the time. "Fight, because you knew you were getting $100."

Delvey had booked a hotel room for several months, a move generally reserved for celebrities that added to her prestige. Moreover, her generous tipping habit and tendency to treat staff members to expensive meals, private training classes, and other experiences only increased her influence over the passing weeks. "She ran that place," Davis added.

Delvey was not only making friends at 11 Howard. She was busy networking all over New York City, making sure to go to popular restaurants, networking at events, and talking about her dream to open a Soho House-like clubhouse for artists. The mystery behind her wealth also added to her mystique. Some people claimed that her family owned an antique furniture empire in Germany. Others thought her father was a Russian diplomat. Davis claimed that Delvey said her father was a solar panel magnate.

But there were some clues that all was not right

Despite Anna Delvey's supposed wealth, there were some bizarre red flags that struck her friends as odd. For example, she would often ask friends to call her Ubers or ask if they could cover dinner and she would pay them back. Sometimes, she would never pay back those debts. Other times, she would reimburse the lender with triple the money back. Her habits may have created questions, but didn't exactly raise doubts since she ended up paying back most of her expenses, per The Cut.

For example, Neffatari Davis said that the hotel staff panicked after they realized that Delvey's credit card on file did not work and she owed the property around $30,000. Management asked her to pay, and Delvey promised a wire transfer was on the way. After several days, the hotel still had not gotten any money and was beginning to consider serious action — until they suddenly received the money from Citibank, covering her expenses in full. Even though she was able to provide $30,000 within a few days, she still refused to give a working credit card for management to have on file, and lingering doubts remained about her financial security.

The shoe dropped when she left a friend with a $70,000 hotel tab

One of the major tipping points in the Anna (Delvey) Sorokin saga was after a luxury trip to Morocco. As described in a personal essay for Vanity Fair, Rachel Deloache Williams, who worked as a photographer for the magazine, said that Delvey had treated her to a holiday trip to Marrakech along with two other friends.

Though the trip had begun happily, it took a turn when the hotel realized Delvey's credit card did not work — just like at 11 Howard. The hotel demanded a card, and Deloache was forced to give her own to avoid a serious issue. Delvey promised to cover all expenses, but this was just another lie.

"I suddenly understood that she intended to leave the hotel charges on my account, to add that amount to the total she owed me from expenses outside the hotel. The balance was more money than I net annually," Deloache wrote. She soon learned that Delvy either owed a lot of people money or had paid back friends only after being threatened with legal action. This sparked Deloache to go to the police.

"I e-mailed the New York County District Attorney's Office, linking to an article about Anna: 'I think this girl is a con artist,' I wrote. An hour later, my cell phone rang," she confessed. "I picked up the phone as I stepped away from my desk. 'We think you're right,' a voice said."

Anna Delvey doesn't seem to regret her actions

Though Anna Delvey was arrested in 2017 and sentenced to four years in prison, it doesn't seem as if she truly regrets her actions. In fact, she has complained to reporters that the media has only focused on her larceny instead of "the hundred things I did right" (via The Cut).

Moreover, she was frustrated by what she saw as the press' misrepresentation of her personality. For example, she hated the fact that The New York Post called her a "wannabe-socialite," insisting that she never specifically wanted to be a socialite but simply hosted networking dinners. In addition, she maintained that she was working to build a space for artists and wasn't solely focused on scamming victims from money.

"If I really wanted the money, I would have better and faster ways to get some," she said. "Resilience is hard to come by, but not capital." Upon her release from jail in February 2021, she appeared to mock her prison sentence in an Instagram post. "Prison is so exhausting, you wouldn't know," she captioned a photo where she wore sunglasses while relaxing on a plush bed.

Contacts suggest her crimes started long before she made it to the U.S.

After Anna Delvey was unmasked as Anna Sorokin, details started to come out about who she really was — including the life she led before she reinvented herself as a wealthy socialite. But getting some of those details has proved difficult. The Russian-born Sorokin moved — along with her family — to Germany in 2007 (when she was 16 years old), and when The Cut reached out to those who knew her, they found something interesting.

While they spoke with her father, they found that he wasn't really forthcoming with his own financial background — which the publication suggests was out of concern that he might be held liable for anything she'd done. But even more interesting than that, they also suggest that although she was eventually convicted of stealing more than $200,000 from various people and institutions, the actual amount is likely much higher. Details, though, remain off the record and will probably stay that way.

They spoke with someone who had known her from Berlin, who said, "She screwed basically everyone." They also claimed that there were multiple people who had been targeted by Sorokin and who ended up losing quite a bit of cash in amounts that weren't specified. Why? Reportedly, those in-the-know believe it's unlikely her early crimes would ever come to light, because many of those she was believed to have stolen from have declined to come forward and admit to having been swindled.

Her father has said she's always welcome at home but needs to figure out her life

Parent-child relationships can be challenging, especially when your daughter is in jail after being convicted of swindling people out of a shocking amount of money. When The Daily Mail spoke with Anna Delvey's father, Vadim Sorokin, he said that he's kept in touch with his daughter and she was still asking him for money. "I've sent her thousands of dollars in the past. At the moment because she is in detention the amounts are small ... I don't think she has ever once said that she loves me, but would tell me instead, 'I'm your only daughter and you have to help me and give me money. I've no way of doing it myself.'"

The Cut found that Delvey's family consistently supported her after high school graduation: She lived in London and Paris as well as Berlin, and throughout her short-lived stint in college and her internships, her lifestyle was bankrolled by her parents. (Her father owns a heating and cooling business.) He also told The Daily Mail that if she were to return home, they would welcome her — but he added that they would absolutely not allow her to continue taking money from people.

As for her side of things, Delvey has said, "I'd rather be in jail than live with my parents," and told The Cut, "My parents had high expectations. They always trusted me with my decision-making. I guess they regret it now."

She is now profiting off of her scams

The final twist in Anna Delvey saga is that she now appears to be profiting off of her crimes. She was paid $320,000 by streaming giant Netflix for the rights to her story for the mini-series "Inventing Anna" that came out in 2022 and was placed under the helm of Shonda Rhimes, the show-runner behind mega-hits such as "Grey's Anatomy," "Scandal," and "Bridgerton."

That said, Delvey was not able to keep all the money — and the government seized around $170,000 in order to pay off her debts. However, she allegedly has been able to keep the remainder, per the BBC.

It looks like the fake heiress will be using some of those earnings to cover her legal expenses, and her attorney has said that he is working on an appeal. He also noted she could deported back to Germany. Other than that, the future of a post-prison Anna Sorokin remains a mystery.

She was less than impressed with the idea of her Netflix series

The Netflix limited series based on Anna Delvey, "Inventing Anna," has a 64% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The Guardian was a little more generous, lauding Julia Garner's portrayal of the title character as "mesmerizing ... a kaleidoscopic mixture of fury and defensiveness." What did the real Delvey have to say about the show?

She wrote an open letter — on a number of things — that was published in Business Insider, and started out by reminding everyone that while viewers were tuning in to a Netflix version of her life, she was sitting in jail and was, herself, unable to watch it. But she suggested that was fine by her: "Nothing about seeing a fictionalized version of myself in this criminal-insane-asylum setting sounds appealing to me," she wrote. She'd already seen herself featured on "20/20," and she wasn't a fan.

"It's hard to explain what I hate about it," she continued. "I just don't want to be trapped with these people dissecting my character, even though no one ever says anything bad. ... I only saw the first couple minutes before I went back to my cell. I was definitely not going to sit there and watch it with everybody." She added that she'd hoped the Netflix show would be some sort of closure for her, but instead, she found that part of her life wasn't over, and that she "can't help but feel like an afterthought" in her own story.

On what she calls nonabuse and the unfairness of her time in jail

In Anna Delvey's 2022 setting-the-record-straight open letter (via Business Insider), she also addressed what her time behind bars was like. She took issue with a lot of things, like seeing people she claimed were much more dangerous than her being released first, while "I spent another set of holidays followed by a COVID-19-tainted birthday in a depressing cell."

She also says that although she tried to keep her head down, do what she was told, and get through it with a minimal amount of hassle, she felt that she was singled out and subjected to what she called "nonabuse." She wrote: "The same hand consistently finds its way to your knee, lingers on your calves, grabs your ankles, wrists, waist: cuffs, chains, bruises on the same spots. It's all for the sake of security, of course."

Delvey calls out a whole slew of offenses as existing for no other reason than to make her uncomfortable, from being quarantined in a cell after her positive COVID test to a lack of choices, seeing nurses instead of doctors, and not learning about her court hearings until moments before she was due to appear. She asked: "Is it fair to call me 'unpredictable' if you never gave me the chance to create stability? ... Will I forever be stuck in a past not entirely of my creation without getting a chance to move on?"

House arrest? A mild inconvenience, when there's fashion shows to hold

After serving roughly four years for her financial crimes, Anna Delvey was released and then rearrested. This time, the arresting agency was Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and after spending 18 months in jail, she was transferred to house arrest. When CNN visited her at her Manhattan apartment, she described her life: "I go through phases where I think this is just unbearable. And why should I be the only person under such conditions?"

The veracity of that statement was up for debate, and in September of 2023, events seemed to suggest that she wasn't letting house arrest slow down her social life. That, says CNN, is when she hosted a massive fashion show on the roof of her building. The whole thing came together as a partnership between Delvey, publicist Kelly Cutrone, and fashion designer Shao Yang. Models were apparently largely prepped in advance before heading to Delvey's apartment, where they headed up to prance and parade around rooftop air conditioning units.

It absolutely wasn't without controversy: Several agencies with models initially scheduled to appear backed out when they realized it was associated with Delvey, while others insisted on advance payments. The New York Times reported that none of her neighbors were thrilled with the show, but Delvey was unrepentant about the controversy, saying to CNN, "People can think whatever they want, but we just like having fun and they can take it or leave it. Who cares?"

Secrecy surrounds her art, but not many are super impressed

Can anyone become an artist? Apparently, because as Artnet reported in 2022, Anna Delvey had tried her hand at art and was selling originals at anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000. Delvey was also in the process of staging a secret art show ... sort of, as she was still under house arrest and would only be attending via Zoom. Was it good art? Eh.

A few months before that show, Rolling Stone reported on another under the headline, "I Have Seen the Death of Culture, and It was Anna Delvey's Art Show." Were there models carrying drawings while wearing BDSM gear? Of course there were. Esquire's Abigail Covington reported on her art show, too, writing, "I Went to Anna Delvey's Stupid Art Show," and continued on about that most important takeaway of the whole thing: "Did you know that in some places in New York City a cocktail can cost, like, 30 dollars? Isn't that stupid?"

Even the New York Post called her artwork "truly awful," but here's the shocking thing — they also reached out to art dealer Chris Martine, who said that prints had been sold to buyers in around 40 countries. Between prints and originals, it was estimated she'd raked in somewhere around $340,000 by the end of 2022. Tech businessman Casey Grooms dropped $15,000 on one, and explained why: "It's the idea, specifically, of buying into the idea of Anna and her life story."