Who is Anna Delvey? The true story of fake socialite portrayed in Netflix’s Inventing Anna

Fake heiress Anna Delvey, or Anna Sorokin, is the basis of Shonda Rhimes’ new Netflix drama

Kate Ng
Tuesday 23 November 2021 09:44
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Netflix has released its first trailer for Shonda Rhimes’ upcoming series, Inventing Anna, which is set to premier in 2022.

The series follows journalist Vivian Kent (played by Anna Chlumsky) as she investigates the case of Anna Delvey (played by Julia Garner), a Russian-born German socialite who scammed banks, hotels and rich acquaintances out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A sneak peek at the nine-episode series shows Delvey at high and low points in her con artist career. In one shot, we see her sitting on the front row at London Fashion Week, while in another she appears to be in prison.

The series was inspired by an in-depth feature by journalist Jessica Pressler in New York Magazine, which was published in 2019.

But who is Anna Delvey, and what did she do?

Who is Anna Delvey?

Anna Delvey was the pseudonym used by a German woman named Anna Sorokin who moved to New York in 2013.

Under the fake name, Sorokin pretended to be a wealthy German heiress in order to establish herself in New York’s social scene.

Julia Garner plays Anna Delvey, whose real name is Anna Sorokin, in a new Netflix series ‘Inventing Anna'

She used the name until 2017, when the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office began investigating her for instances of bank fraud.

In reality, Sorokin’s parents came from humble means. Her father worked as a truck driver, while her mother was a convenience store owner before she became a housewife.

She was born in the town of Domodedovo, near Moscow, in January 1991, and the family moved to Germany in 2007 when she was 16.

Sorokin moved in London in 2011 to attend Central Saint Martins, but quit and returned to Germany. She then relocated to Paris to start an internship with Purple, a French fashion magazine.

It was in Paris that she began using the name Delvey. Her parents said they “do not recognise the surname”.

What did Anna Delvey, or Sorokin, do?

Upon her move to New York City, Sorokin attempted to pitch her idea for an “Anna Delvey Foundation” to wealthy potential investors.

The idea encompassed a private members’ club and art foundation, which involved leasing the Church Missions House – a historic building in Manhattan – as a multi-purpose events venue and art studio.

She also befriended rich socialites and would ask them to pay for hotels, flights, and lavish meals on the promise she would pay them back, but would later “forget” to do so.

Fake German heiress Anna Sorokin is led away after being sentenced in Manhattan Supreme Court May 9, 2019 following her conviction last month on multiple counts of grand larceny and theft of services

Having failed to get investors for her foundation, Sorokin began creating fake bank statements purporting to show she had access to about €60m (approximately £50m) stored in Swiss bank accounts.

She submitted these documents as part of loan applications. But suspicion mounted over her applications due to discrepancies in her paperwork, and she withdrew it to avoid scrutiny.

Sorokin also checked into hotels without a working credit card on file and racked up tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid bills.

After eventually paying the US$30,000 bill she accumulated at the 11 Howard Hotel in SoHo using funds she gained from depositing fraudulent checks, she was evicted and moved to the Beekman Hotel.

But she was also evicted from the Beekman Hotel after failing to pay her US$11,518 bill, and again from the W New York Union Square hotel after just two days. Both hotels pressed charges against her for theft of services.

What happened to Anna Delvey, or Sorokin?

Sorokin was eventually indicted on several counts of grand larceny and misdemeanour theft of services.

She was arrested on 3 October 2017 in a sting operation. At the time, she was staying at Passages Malibu, an addiction treatment facility in California.

She appeared in New York City Criminal Court in December 2018, and a trial was set for 20 March 2019. At the end of the trial, Sorokin was found guilty of eight charges, including grand larceny in the second degree, attempted grand larceny and theft of services.

She was sentenced to four to 12 years in state prison on Rikers Island, fined US$24,000 and ordered to pay restitution of around US$199,000.

Speaking about her experience in prison, Sorokin told Pressler: “This place is not bad at all actually. People seem to think it’s horrible, but I see it as like, a sociological experiment.

“There are couple of girls who are here for financial crimes as well. This one girl, she’s been stealing other people’s identities. I didn’t realise it was so easy.”

Sorokin was released from prison on 11 February 2021, but was taken back into custody a month later for overstaying her visa. As of October, she was being held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody awaiting deportation to Germany.

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