Is Anna Delvey A Master Criminal Or Just A Victim Of Circumstance?

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“New York is swimming in capital. But talent, that’s hard to come by. A vision like mine doesn’t come around all the time. Genius is rare. Besides, I don’t lose.”

If you haven’t seen Inventing Anna on Netflix yet, clear your calendar – this dramatic miniseries is begging to be binged, and I immediately indulged myself when it was released.

The dramatized retelling of the true story of Anna Sorokin/Delvey leaves little to the imagination but does admit (and says at the beginning of every episode) that the story is entirely true — aside from the parts which were made up.

What’s fact and what’s fiction? Given that Anna made up much of her own story, a tapestry woven out of dream, desire, and talent, it’s hard to parse out the “truth” in the series’ fictionalized account. But after doing some digging, it seems that most of it seems to be “true,” though I’m hoping for another studio to hop on the Anna Delvey train and do a docuseries (which it looks like might happen?). The closest I’ve found is the episode dedicated to her on HBO Max’s Generation Hustle.

Inventing Anna follows investigative journalist Vivian (Anna Chlumsky) as she crafts what she’s convinced will be a killer story based on this article by Jessica Pressler. The story is about little-known con artist Anna Delvey (Julia Garner), who’s being held in New York’s famous Rikers Correctional Center as she awaits her trial for various counts of fraud and grand larceny. Vivian pieces together the events of Anna’s time in New York by scoring interviews from reluctant former friends, acquaintances, and business associates of the scammer, which include members of New York’s most elite social classes.

The gist of the series (and Anna Delvey/Sorokin’s real-life con) is this: Anna Sorokin (operating under the name Anna Delvey) arrives in New York and immediately begins rubbing shoulders with the rich and influential, claiming she’s a wealthy German heiress. She books expensive rooms in hotels, tips in $100 bills, and is soon negotiating with Gibson Dunn to secure a loan that’ll allow her to purchase 281 Park Avenue South, in which she hopes to start an art-based social club for New York’s upper class.

Anna fooled everyone. Soon enough, her name was buzzing around NYC’s social scene – she always ended up at the best parties, getting introductions to all the people who make things happen – all of which is to say, she fooled some of the most intelligent individuals not only in the city but, arguably, in the entire country.

anna delvey

As I watched Inventing Anna and the Generation Hustle episode on her story, I have to admit, Anna captivated me. I got angry, not at her, but for her. I found that things I’d thought were moral absolutes were being dug up inside of me, begging to be examined and questioned, begging to be considered in the context of our modern-day social construct — one in which all the wealth and power is held by very, very few.

See, here’s the thing: our society favors those born into buckets of money. They’re the ones with the power and influence, and they’re the ones with the virtual no-holds-barred access to make their dreams a reality. After all, there’s nothing money can’t buy, right? And Anna clearly saw this. If we can be certain of one thing, it’s that Anna is incredibly intelligent. I mean, you have to be if you’re going to fool NYC’s best and brightest. She knew the lingo of the rich and famous, she could talk circles around them when it came to art, and many of those acquainted with her said she fit into the scene perfectly.

When I look at Anna, I see a girl with a dream and no means. I see a girl who saw where she wanted to be and had a fake-it-til-you-make-it attitude. Now, I don’t want to make light of fraud — she conned hotels and resorts out of a MASSIVE amount of money, but how do we know she wouldn’t have paid it back? She was inches away from getting a loan approved that would’ve allowed her to start her elite social club, an idea which would’ve made her millions, had she been able to get it off the ground. And I’m confident she would have — this girl has drive.

So, what do we do with Anna? I must admit, I admire her passion, her drive, her sheer determination to see her dreams realized. The way she went about it all was wrong, sure, but tell me, how else could she have gone about it? Should she have stayed in Germany, snagged a job at her father’s heating and cooling business or her mother’s convenience store? 

It makes me want to rage against the machine. Those of us born into less than ideal means are told inspirational, one-in-a-million stories about pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps. We’re given a false narrative from people who do have means, who have seen their dreams realized, that, with the appropriate amount of effort, we can have everything we want in this life, too. We just have to try hard enough.

All I’m saying is, Anna did try hard enough. She was almost there. And then, she was stopped, all for defrauding millionaires out of thousands. And, honestly, don’t even get me started on Rachel — whom I haven’t mentioned before now for a reason — who offered to put her card down for the resort and ended up getting all her money back anyway.

Anna had an idea, she had a business plan, she was smart, and I’m certain she could have made all that money back and then some. And I’m convinced she would have paid her debts. I think she knew she could “make it” and was just trying to hold on until she did. She was as frustrated with the system as they come and as her character says in the series, “If I were a man in the right suit, with the right accent and a degree from an Ivy League college, would I still be knocking on doors?” 

I don’t know what to do with Anna, what conclusions to make about her, or where to shuffle her away in my brain’s filing system of heinous crimes, stranger-than-fiction stories, and strong women who refuse to be fucked over. For now, I’m just waiting for the Ivy-League-degreed, born-into-wealth, appropriately-suited man to swoop in, steal Anna’s idea of an art enthusiast’s elite social club, make millions off of it, and be called “visionary.”


Did you watch ‘Inventing Anna’ on Netflix? What do you think about Anna Delvey? Tell us in the comments!

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