The phone rings and the caller needs no introduction. A hybrid accent — dotted with vowels falling somewhere between Moscow and Manhattan, through Berlin — betrays it; it smacks of quirky high school graduations, trust funds, and an idle and wealthy lifestyle.
But there’s another instantly identifiable element to that phone call: It’s preceded by a pre-recorded message saying it’s coming from a prison — to be exact, an Orange County correctional facility in upstate New York.
And the caller? Her name is Anna Sorokina, best known to the world as Anna Delvey. She’s an infamous fake German heiress and convicted con artist who was jailed in 2019 for a series of stunning shenanigans that shocked New York City’s rich art scene.
Posing as a glamorous — and highly believable — art lover and socialite, she spent ten months defrauding banks, law firms, hotels, fashion designers, a private jet company and prospective friends worth £211,000 after arriving in the US in 2017.
The world was captured by her month-long ordeal. Jurors heard her settle in posh boutique hotels in midtown Manhattan, dress in Balenciaga and Celine, patronize expensive restaurants and throw crunchy $100 bills like confetti to waiters, concierges and drivers.
In fact, the so-called crumb from the trust fund, who boasted of her £60 million fortune abroad, was actually the poor daughter of a Russian truck driver who moved his family to Germany.
Jailed for four to 12 years, she was released in the early hours of Feb. 11 last year and is now the hero of a ten-part Netflix series about the life of a convicted con man.
Dubbed “Inventing Anna” starring Julia Garner of Ozark, it debuted Friday and instantly climbed in the rankings, becoming Netflix’s most popular show of the weekend in both the UK and the US.
Anna Sorokina, best known to the world as Anna Delvi, is a notorious fake German heiress and convicted fraudster who was jailed in 2019 for a series of stunning shenanigans that shocked New York’s rich art scene.
“I want to watch the series, but I’ll have to wait until I get out of prison,” Anna (who is now behind bars again) says in an exclusive interview with the Mail.
“Obviously I can’t get a Netflix account while I’m incarcerated.” Although she collaborated with Shonda Rhimes, the producer of The Bridgerton series who directed the series, Anna says she has no idea if the drama will be true.
“I’m the only person who can tell my story. All this time, when all this was happening, no one was with me, “she comments.
To this end, she writes her memoirs in prison. “That’s the only good thing I’ve managed to achieve while I’m here – I definitely have a lot of time to write. I’m in talks with different publishers,” she says. The irony of 31-year-old Anna, who can’t watch a television series based on her own life, won’t escape the attention of some of her victims, including Mark Kremers, owner of Future Corp, a London- and Paris-based digital agency whose clients include luxury fashion brand Moncler, artist Damien Hirst and New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
He says he is still owed £16,800 for the branding work he did for Anne’s grand plan to create a £25 million private club to showcase what she claimed was her wealthy family’s art collection. “She was telling me, ‘Don’t worry, it’s just a little hitch with transferring my funds.’
“But every single day, every week, more than a year, there were different excuses,” he recalls.
After her parole last year, anyone who thought Anna Sorokin would quietly slip away was in for a surprise.
She immediately took up the thread of her former life, booking a room at the prestigious NoMad Hotel in New York and signing contracts with magazines and television.
She wanted to open her own clothing label and planned to release a collection of “prison-style home clothes” The Corrections Collection.
This image, published by Netflix, depicts Julia Garner in a scene from the movie Inventing Anna.
There was talk of printing T-shirts with Anna’s bank’s QR code so people could send her money. Other T-shirts would have phrases like “Anna Delvey is bigger than El Chapo” and “Anna Delvey has more deals than Netflix.”
There have even been plans to release a lingerie line that will play on Kim Kardashian’s brand name Skims. Anna’s version will be called Fraud.
Anna had to check in regularly at the parole unit in Govanus, an inconspicuous area of Brooklyn. Some convicted white-collar workers might have thought that this duty should be carried out as carefully as possible. But not Anna.
She turned this into a fashion show by wearing her favorite Balenciaga and posing for a dozen or more paparazzi trying to take a picture of her as she walked out of her hotel. She even ordered a limousine or SUV to take her to an parole meeting.
According to her Instagram account at the time — she still has 150,000 followers — everything was business as usual. Anna posted a photo of her eating caviar and drinking champagne with a friend, as well as a photo of a carrier bag from elite retailer Net-A-Porter.
All of this appears to have been funded by what was left of the £235,000 she earned as a result of the Netflix deal after it paid £147,000 in restitution to lenders such as banks and hotels, plus £17,500 in fines.
She persuaded an American TV channel to buy her an expensive new wardrobe in exchange for an interview. She dined at expensive restaurants, although she had to return to the hotel early due to a curfew at 9 p.m. imposed by the terms of her parole.
Douglas Higginbotham, a British cameraman and producer who now lives in New York, acted as her personal videographer and de facto publicist.
He recalls how Anna commented on Twitter on the statements of the District Attorney of New York on the topic of law and order.
I’d say, “What are you doing? It’s like throwing rocks at a lion. Delete that!” he says. “Sometimes I felt like her father.”
On her Instagram account, Anna boasted: “This damn lawless city belongs to me.”
But her arrogance was to prove her downfall, and the authorities clearly disapproved of such displays of bravado. Everything collapsed again for Anna when – just six weeks later at large – she was arrested again and taken into custody for an expired tourist visa on which she entered the United States.
Since March 26 last year, she has been behind bars again, and her designer wardrobe has been replaced by a prison jumpsuit. Her eyelash extensions fell out a couple of weeks after being detained, and she says she has been completely “deglamurrled.”
“Sure, I miss beautiful clothes and makeup, but that’s not the main thing I worry about,” she complains.
“I miss not being able to do something for myself, and I hate it when other people are in so much control of my life.
“I feel like people don’t see that I’m trying to rectify the situation and get away from my crimes and the events that happened to me when I was 20 years old.
“Hopefully I can make a difference. But so far, that hasn’t been the case.
“I take responsibility for some of the decisions I’ve made, but I’ve never said that everything in my life has been so wonderful and amazing that people should be doing the same.
“I tried to do something good in the situation I found myself in, but I never said I had to be an example to anyone.”
Her comments stand in stark contrast to the remarks she made in an interview last year. She then told the New York Times, “The thing is, I’m not sorry. I would lie to you, everyone else, and myself if I said I was sorry for anything.
“I’m sorry about how I handled some things.”
Similarly, in an interview with BBC2 Newsnight, host Emily Maitlis asked Anna if she thought the crime had been paid for. “In a way, yes,” she smirked.
Both interviews were raised during a deportation hearing that followed when a judge called her “a danger to society” and ordered her to be deported from the U.S. This is delayed while Anna appeals in her last roll of the dice. “When I first went to prison for my crimes, I thought it was my sentence and I should have been there, but now it seems completely unfair,” says Anna.
“I never deceived people – my crimes were against financial institutions. The definition of fraud in America is that you permanently deprive people of funds or property, and I don’t feel like that was ever my intention.”
Judge Diane Kizel sentenced Anna Sorokina, also known as Anna Delvey, to prison terms ranging from 4 to 12 years, damages of $198,956.19 and a fine of $24,000 for stealing more than $200,000 and attempting to steal millions more through numerous scams.
In the netflix series, Anna’s character says that men advertise their financial situation all the time and there are no consequences for them – not to mention imprisonment.
Does she feel like she’s been treated cruelly because she’s a young woman?
“In a sense, yes,” she replies. “I try to admit what I’ve done, but if you look at other people, they get away with a lot more than I do.
“But I try not to think of myself as a victim because it’s toxic thinking.” Aside from the memoirs she writes, Anna says she has projects ready when she is finally released from custody. “I’m in talks with some galleries about showing my art; I’m finishing my book; I’m planning my clothing line and also working on a podcast.”
In cases of deportation, people are usually prohibited from re-entering the U.S. for ten years.
On several occasions, Anna was told she was being sent back to Germany, and a few weeks ago she was taken to New York’s Kennedy Airport and was about to board a plane to Frankfurt when her lawyer intervened. “I feel like my whole life is in New York, and most of my friends. I have so much history going on there and so much going on. I would very much like to resolve my immigration situation,” she says.
On the phone, you can see that she is sobbing. “It’s hard for me every day and it’s very hard for me not to cry,” she says. “I feel like there’s no end to it and I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Although Douglas Higginbotham says he does not condone Anna’s crimes, he believes she is punished enough.
“If she really has to leave the States, I think she’ll feel completely defeated,” he says.
“New York is the place where she wants to be. She wants to live that life; she wants to live like Jeff Bezos.”
It’s no surprise that Mark Kremers, still looking at his unpaid bill, sees things differently. “I think she’s a dreamer, and now her fantasies have become inextricably linked to her life. But I can’t deny that this is an entertaining story for my clients. Everyone wants to talk about Anna Delvey.
“It’s annoying that people still admire her and believe that she had the courage to play this big and sophisticated trick with New York.
“But when people take you for a walk like that, it’s a terrible feeling.”
As for Anna, she says she just needs a chance to prove herself. “I know I’ve made a questionable choice, but to people who think badly of me, I’d like to prove them wrong,” she says.
Despite the fact that she is in prison and faces deportation from the United States, only one thing is clear: we certainly have not heard of Anna Sorokina for the last time.
Anna Sorokina did not receive any fee for this interview.