Netflix’s Inventing Anna tells the wild true story of Anna Sorokin, who posed as a wealthy German heiress named Anna Delvey while living in N.Y.C.
The series was inspired by an in-depth feature by journalist Jessica Pressler in New York Magazine, which was published in 2018. (She is also an executive producer on the nine-episode series.)
Learn more about the true story of Anna Delvey and her crimes ahead.
Who is Anna Delvey?
Anna Delvey, whose real name is Anna Sorokin, was born on Jan. 23, 1991, in Domodedovo, a town outside of Moscow, Russia, but predominantly grew up in Germany. She and her brother were raised in a middle-class family; her father drove a truck and her mother once owned a small convenience store.
At age 19, Sorokin left Germany to pursue a fashion degree in Paris and eventually took on the name Anna Delvey. In summer 2013, she attended Fashion Week in New York on behalf of Purple magazine, where she was working at the time, and eventually opted to stay in the city.
What crimes did Anna Delvey commit?
While in N.Y.C., Sorokin paraded as a wealthy German heiress to infiltrate herself into the inner circle of the city’s biggest socialites. During her time in the city, she scammed countless people, hotels, and banks, often using invalid credit cards or fake bank statements to create the illusion of wealth. She even created the idea of the Anna Delvey Foundation, a private club and art foundation, to entice wealthy donors and further her brand.
After bouncing from hotel to hotel and repeatedly not paying her bills, Sorokin was evicted from several hotels. She was eventually indicted on several counts of grand larceny and misdemeanour theft of services.
In October 2017, Sorokin was arrested during a sting operation. At the time, she was staying at an addiction treatment facility in Los Angeles County, California. During her prosecution, it was estimated that she stole around $275,000.
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 (£17,640) and ordered to pay restitution of around US$199,000 ($146,335)
Did she hire a top stylist for trial to try and ‘sway’ the jury?
Anna reportedly hired stylist Anastacia Walker to help her with the “courtroom look” with her trial taking place at the New York State Supreme Court.
Sorokin was seen on one of the days wearing a choker necklace and a black dress which is from Miu Miu, according to the New York Post.
Speaking to ELLE.com about what she and Sorokin spoke about, designer Walker explained: “Anna and I talked on the phone about what she was interested in wearing.
“I couldn’t show her photographs, but as people interested in fashion, we spoke in references about the themes she wanted to come through [in her outfits].”
Per Marie Claire, Anna’s trial garnered media attention for her wardrobe choices and demands, which sometimes delayed proceedings. According to The Guardian, Sorokin was “admonished for throwing tantrums when she couldn’t get her stylist-curated outfits and drew unflattering sketches of the lead prosecutor during testimony.”
Where is Anna Delvey now?
After her trial, Sorokin was sent to Bedford Hills Correctional Facility before being transferred to Albion Correctional Facility in New York. In February of 2021, Sorokin was released from prison early, having apologized at a parole hearing four months prior. “I just want to say that I’m really ashamed and I’m really sorry for what I did,” she said, per a transcript quoted by the New York Post. “I completely understand that a lot of people suffered when I thought I was not doing anything wrong.”
Per The National News, hours after she was freed in February 2021, Sorokin took to Twitter, writing on a new account that was later suspended: “Someone from Fortress Investment Group — I need $720m by the end of next week, DM me”. Her bio read “I’m back”.
She hired a film crew to follow her around and told Insider she was “filming everything I’m doing right now” and would see what she’d do with it “later”. “I just got out of prison, like two days ago. So it’s me like getting all this stuff from Sephora, me opening a bank account as soon as I get permission from my parole officer.”
However, that March, she was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for overstaying her visa.
In an Insider essay published ahead of Inventing Anna’s premiere, she said that her visa overstay was “unintentional and largely out of my control.” She appealed her deportation but remained in custody after a judge deemed her “a continuous danger to the community,” partly based on her press interviews and social media.
According to Marie Claire, Sorokin lost her battle in mid-March of 2022 with immigration authorities—a battle that had lasted a year—and was scheduled to be deported to Germany, where she spent a portion of her teenage years. (Born in Russia, Sorokin still has family in Germany.) Sorokin had told reporters that she had built her life in New York and was determined to stay there.
Did Netflix pay Anna Delvey for Inventing Anna?
In February 2022, Insider reported that Netflix paid Sorokin $320,000 for the rights to adapt her life story for Inventing Anna. The publication also reports that Sorokin has used $199,000 of the money she received from Netflix to pay restitution to the banks she owes, plus another $24,000 to settle state fines.
In an open letter for Insider, Sorokin expressed her thoughts on the Netflix series, noting that “nothing about seeing a fictionalized version of myself in this criminal-insane-asylum setting sounds appealing to me.”
“For a long while, I was hoping that by the time Inventing Anna came out, I would’ve moved on with my life,” she wrote. “I imagined for the show to be a conclusion of sorts summing up and closing of a long chapter that had come to an end. Nearly four years in the making and hours of phone conversations and visits later, the show is based on my story and told from a journalist’s perspective. And while I’m curious to see how they interpreted all the research and materials provided, I can’t help but feel like an afterthought, the somber irony of being confined to a cell at yet another horrid correctional facility lost between the lines, the history repeating itself.”
What has Anna said about her crimes?
Sorokin has been presented in the media (and the show) as mostly unrepentant about her actions, though she did tell the court during her sentencing hearing, “I apologize for the mistakes I made.” In an interview given the day after her sentencing, Sorokin admitted, “The thing is, I’m not sorry. I’d be lying to you and to everyone else and to myself if I said I was sorry for anything. I regret the way I went about certain things.”
In a recent New York Times interview, she expressed remorse for her actions, reflecting that she felt defiant and was still processing everything when she made that initial quote.
She has also recently expressed that she feels she’s unable to go on with her life and move past her crimes. Of her ICE detention, she told Cosmopolitan, “I was given an opportunity to move on, but they took it all away from me. I feel like I’m being tried for the same thing over and over again.”
What is Anna working on now?
Per Deadline, while still detained, Sorokin has teamed up with Surviving R. Kelly producer Bunim/Murray Productions on a limited docuseries, set to “explore the next chapter in her life.” It plans to begin where Inventing Anna ends, following her rapidly-changing plans day-to-day while also giving insight into how she thinks.
“Anna’s story is very much alive and still unfolding as we speak. We’ve been developing this project with her for months now – and spent countless hours on phone and video calls with her. She is a complicated and fascinating character, and we are looking forward to telling the next chapter of her ever-evolving tale,” said Mike Driscoll, Director of Development at Bunim/Murray Productions.
And in her interview with the NYT, Anna hinted that she’s working on a project with Julia Fox. “We actually connected on Instagram when I was out, and we DM’d a bit, and then she jumped on my Clubhouse…We have a similar sense of humor. She was never judgmental, and we’ve stayed in touch ever since.” She added that she and Fox were “working on a little something together.”