Who Is ‘Inventing Anna’ Based on and Where Is She Now?
We are halfway into 2022 and of all the enticing series Netflix has debuted so far, Inventing Anna wins the crown. Starring Emmy-winning Julia Garner and helmed by Shonda Rhimes, it tells the sensational story of a charismatic scamster. But is it real?
Netflix is renowned for its crime series depicting real-life stories that have grabbed eyeballs and snatched headlines. But its drama miniseries, Inventing Anna, held everyone’s attention because it introduced the infamous con artist who went by the name of Anna Delvey. Pretending to be a wealthy German heiress, Delvey scammed New York City elites from 2013 until her arrest in 2017.
So, where is Anna Delvey now? Did her story really end where the Netflix series concluded? Before we dive into her current whereabouts, let’s delve into the scandalous true story of Inventing Anna.
Who Is Inventing Anna Based On? The True Story of Anna Delvey
While the true story of Anna Delvey became public knowledge after she was sentenced in 2019, the Netflix series chose to base its story on the New York Magazine article “How Anna (Sorokin) Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People” by Jessica Pressler.
In her article, Pressler interviewed everyone from the young concierge Neff at the hotel 11 Howard to the wealthy names of NYC’s VIPs. Everyone had the same things to say about Anna — she was someone who loved flaunting money and “knew everyone.”
Anyone who has seen Inventing Anna knows that in reality, Anna had no money and faked being a German heiress. Her real name is Anna Sorokin and she was born in a Moscow suburb on January 23, 1991, in a middle-class family, where her mother used to run a small convenience store and her father drove a truck. She dropped out of art school and barely worked for a year at a fashion magazine in New York.
And yet, none of the affluent individuals (not to mention many hotels and banks) she conned initially managed to notice that she was lying through her teeth, or the fact that she was making others pay for her outrageously extravagant lifestyle.
The biggest socialites of the city were in contact with her — DJ Elle Dee, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Joel Cohen, and art collector Michael Xufu Huang, to name but a few. She even cooked up the “Anna Delvey Foundation,” which she proclaimed would be a private club for members only and an art foundation. But it was never anything more than another trick to fool the rich.
In the beginning, no one batted an eyelash, even when she asked others to pay her bills, always paid in cash, mysteriously left her wallet home every time, or had a credit card that never worked when it came to making payments. Strangely enough, Anna always explained her imaginary wealth with a different backstory, but her charisma was enough to make a great first impression and everyone believed her.
At least… they did until the loans she took from friends, the fraudulent checks she submitted in banks, and the bills she could not pay began to pile up; meanwhile, the lies she kept no track of started contradicting her claims.
Anna Sorokin Started Running Out of Believable Lies
It all started unraveling in 2017 after she was evicted from one hotel after another as her fraudulent wire transfers didn’t amount to anything and her credit cards were all declined. One of the hotels even filed a case of theft of services against her when she failed to pay her bills. She was already under investigation for bank fraud, too.
By July 2017, Anna had run out of friends. Rachel DeLoache Williams, who worked at Vanity Fair at the time (and was still waiting for the $62,000 she spent on Delvey) and celebrity fitness expert/trainer Kacy Duke refused to go out of their way to help her anymore as her stories were starting to not add up. It didn’t help that she had failed to pay them back even as she brazenly continued to ask for more money to settle her many outstanding bills.
Things took a turn for the worst for Anna after she skipped her court date for the theft of service charges. Her flimsy reputation took a hit when the Post wrote about her, saying, “Wannabe socialite skips court, now faces arrest.” But the police had no idea about her whereabouts and she left behind no trail. So, New York Assistant District Attorney Catherine McCaw and New York Police Department Officer Michael McCaffrey decided to hatch a sting operation and contacted Rachel Williams, as she revealed in her 2019 article in Time.
She had been giving Anna the cold shoulder for months, but the police asked her to message her again, pretending to reconcile in order to coax out where she was. Rachel messaged and while Anna took her time to respond, she eventually fell for the trap and revealed her location — Passages Malibu, a luxury rehab facility in Los Angeles County, California. Anna was soon arrested, bringing her years of swindling the elite to an abrupt end.
Where Is Anna Sorokin Now?
In 2019, Anna Sorokin was indicted by a grand jury that found her guilty of a total of eight charges, which included attempted grand larceny in the first degree, grand larceny in the second degree, grand larceny in the third degree, as well as theft of services for the bogus loan applications she made. All together, she was charged for scamming many and stealing an estimated amount of $275,000.
The judge remarked how they were “stunned by the depth of the defendant’s deception” and sentenced her to 4 to 12 years in state prison. She was also fined $24,000 and was ordered by the court to pay restitution of about $199,000. But Anna had no regrets. “I’d be lying to you and to everyone else and to myself if I said I was sorry for anything,” she said in an interview with New York Times before the judgment. She used the $320,000 Netflix paid her for the rights to her life story to pay the fines.
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On February 11, 2021, Anna was released from prison on parole. But she only got to taste freedom for six weeks as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) took her into custody for overstaying her visa. It was decided that she would be deported to Germany on March 14, 2022, but as reported by Der Spiegel, she refused to leave and is contesting the decision. Thus, at the moment, Anna sits in Orange County Jail, hoping for a decision in her favor as she doesn’t want to leave New York.
Anna Sorokin Wants to Turn Over a New Leaf
While the legal system and, of course, the people she conned are not in favor of giving her a second chance, her story via Inventing Anna has catapulted her to instant fame. Though she is stuck in ICE custody, she held her first art exhibition in late March 2022, titled “Free Anna Delvey.” The exhibition also contained five drawings by Anna and according to the New York Times, were priced at $10,000.
“It’s ironic,” Anna shared. “How after having failed so publicly while trying to build A.D.F. a couple of years ago, people are way more interested in hearing my voice now than they were back in 2017.”
A second exhibition took place in May 2022. Titled “Allegedly,” it featured 20 drawings by Anna that were each priced at $10,000.
How Different Is Inventing Anna From Anna Sorokin’s Real Story?
At the beginning of every episode of Inventing Anna, there is a disclaimer simply stating that the truth has been laced with elements of fiction. While the majority of the outrageous scams depicted in the series were committed by Anna, a few creative liberties have been taken while shaping her story for the small screen.
For starters, the character of reporter Vivian Kent is based on the real-life New York Magazine writer Jessica Pressler, who was pregnant when she investigated Anna’s life. But that’s where the similarities end. As revealed by Pressler in a chat with Vulture, she never joined with the defense to solve the case and neither did she break into Anna’s parents’ home in Germany. She also never faced any excessive resistance from her New York Magazine bosses when she decided to pursue Anna’s story.
Same goes for the fictional Chase Sikorski, Anna’s boyfriend in Inventing Anna. But he is not pure fiction as Pressler’s article did mention a “futurist on the TED-Talks circuit who’d been profiled in The New Yorker” whom Anna had dated for a while.
Many other character names in the show are not real but it is obvious that they are based on real-life people who interacted with Anna. Her finance lawyer, Alan Reed, for example, is probably based on her real-life lawyer, Andy Lance. And just like it is shown in the series, he never made an attempt to properly check if Anna really had the resources to pay for the lavish plans she had.
Inventing Anna did dramatize the bit about Peter Hennecke, though. The real Anna cooked up the fictional persona and claimed that he was her business manager. She provided people with fake email IDs to contact him and a cell phone number that was later traced back to a defunct burner phone. But in the series, Anna goes out of her way to make Hennecke look believable. She is seen using voice disguising software to sound like her non-existent German business manager to anyone who called the number.
What’s Next for Anna Delvey?
Inventing Anna isn’t the last time Anna’s story will grace the small screen. As reported by Town and Country Magazine, she has signed a deal with Bunim-Murray Productions to star in a new docuseries. While Inventing Anna only covered her court trials and life in prison, the reality TV series will document what she has been up to since then.
“Anna’s story is very much alive and still unfolding as we speak,” Michael Driscoll, director of development at Bunim/Murray Productions, shared with Deadline. “She is a complicated and fascinating character, and we are looking forward to telling the next chapter of her ever-evolving tale.”
In a chat with NBC News, Anna also revealed that she is launching NFTs (non-fungible tokens) in order to give her fans “exclusive access” to her as they have been supporting her constantly and writing letters to her. She also shared that she is “trying to move away” from her “scammer persona” as she hates seeing herself being called one.
Fictional events and shocking facts aside, Anna Sorokin has made it clear that she wants to leave her past behind. She expressed her frustration with the label of being a fraud in an essay she penned for Insider, saying, “Will I forever be stuck in a past not entirely of my creation without getting a chance to move on?”
Only time will tell whether the world, and especially those she scammed, are ready to let bygones be bygones.