Art World Scammer Once Known as Anna Delvey Speaks on House Arrest: ‘I’m Still Living Better Than All ofYou’

It’s 4 p.m. on a Monday afternoon and Anna Sorokin is blasting Drake from her quaint apartment in the East Village of Manhattan. When I arrive at the top of her five-floor walk-up, she doesn’t come out, instead yelling from the bathroom to let myself in.

“Sorry, I’ll be right out. I can’t figure out what to wear! What’s the vibe?” she asks, in that iconic European accent that Julia Garner mastered in her portrayal of the fake German heiress in “Inventing Anna.”

The Netflix series created by Shonda Rhimes details the real-life story of 31 year-old Sorokin, who throughout the 2010s took the name Anna Delvey as she scammed her way through Manhattan, using an invented trust fund to persuade the city’s power brokers to invest in a members-only arts club. In 2019, she was convicted with grand larceny, among a slew of other financial crimes, for stealing more than $200,000 from investors, banks and friends, and ultimately destroying the lives of many in her innermost circle. She spent the majority of her two-year sentence in Rikers prison.

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The rap music playing from a shoddy Bluetooth speaker, a messy display of outfit choices splayed out on her bed: it feels as if we’re getting ready for a night of clubbing in Downtown Manhattan. But of course, nightlife is no longer an option for Sorokin, who after being released from prison in February of 2021, was detained by immigration authorities for overstaying her visa. Now, she’s on house arrest with an ankle monitor and an agreement to stay off social media, meaning her photo shoots for the foreseeable future will have to take place from home. And she seems to have a lot of them. She’s been on a packed press schedule since her release last month, usually the sign of some sort of promotional campaign for a new product release or the announcement of a book or show. But now that she’s out of jail, Sorokin is back to promoting more of the same: herself.

Her ad-hoc home (she signed onto a temporary six-month lease) is small the way all New York apartments are small, but anyone familiar with the New York housing market knows that you need a fairly sizable savings account to land a newly renovated one-bedroom apartment in the heart of the East Village. Four massive prints from Graham Fortgang’s “New York Is Dead” photo series take up most of the real estate on her wall (these cost $2,500 to $8,000 each, but she says she got them for free through a pop-up event she has planned with gallery owner Samara Bliss). One wall is dedicated to her own art, illustrations that she created behind bars and whose copied prints, she says, have already made her a whopping $200,000.

On the left, an image of a open medicine cabinet in a bathroom and a mirror. On the right, three pairs of sunglassses and a purse that reads, "I Heart NY."
The interior of Anna Sorokin’s East Village apartment.
Casey Kelbaugh for Variety
A kitfchen counter with a sleeve of red cups and a bowl of oranges.
The kitchen counter of Anna Sorokin’s East Village apartment.
Casey Kelbaugh for Variety

This sum was how she was able to post bail and pay the three months’ worth of rent that landed her the apartment. “I don’t know why people are so surprised, it’s not like I pulled off something overnight,” she says. “I was constantly working while I was in jail and I sold a lot of my art, I wasn’t just sitting there doing nothing.”

She tells me all this while she touches up her makeup in the bathroom, which contains a mix of high-end and drugstore beauty products. Glossier serums and Dior mascaras are scattered in her medicine cabinet, while moisturizers and face creams and perfumes spill out onto the window ledge.

The rest of her space is bare for someone forced to stay home all day, but there are still remnants from her past life. Celine sunglasses and a Susan Alexandra “I Love New York” bag are propped on her kitchen counter, a better use of the space since she doesn’t cook. “I just have people deliver everything to me,” she says.

Her fridge is devoid of food and is instead filled with La Croix, Diet Coke and San Pellegrino, her sparkling water of choice. “The packaging is just so chic, it’s the best.”

I pour myself a glass of water and make myself at home until she finally emerges in a long, black cotton dress. “Is this too boob-ey?” she asks, still fiddling with the zipper. After a few more minutes of futzing with her final look, we sit and talk about about what she’s been working on since her release.

Sorokin has big plans for a memoir project and more for her art, but the most fleshed-out venture she has in the pipeline is a dinner series. This VIP invite would allow a select group of attendees to her house for dinner. And do what, exactly? It’s hard to say. She says she wants to use the dinners to support criminal justice organizations such as the Marshall Project, the ACLU and the Equal Justice Initiative (EGI). Everything is in the early stages so she doesn’t have any organizations on board yet. However, her inbox is allegedly flooded with celebrity chefs looking to cater the glitzy events, and production companies looking to make it into a show.

A smiling woman looks into a mirror.
Anna Sorokin touches up her makeup.
Casey Kelbaugh for Variety

“Nobody ever cares about my thoughts on criminal justice, like how I would want to reform it or make a difference. I feel like it’d be a shame if I were to waste my voice and the attention I’m getting on just a photo shoot,” she says, as a camera flashes beside her. “I’m in this unique position where I actually have a platform, and I have the credibility of somebody who’s actually been through the system as opposed to just being a random famous person who needs a pet cause.”

“It’s gotten so much attention because it’s still not completely out of character,” she continues. “It’s not me, like feeding homeless children. It’s still something that people would expect of me.”

Her dream dinner guests? Anna Wintour, Bret Easton Ellis and Elon Musk.

“I think what I like about [Elon] is his views are very fluid and constantly changing. So, he doesn’t really have any issues admitting that he’s wrong or changing his opinions without being uptight, as long as it’s on his terms. I feel like not a lot of people do that.”

Tech titans such as Musk have long interested Sorokin. Her boyfriend throughout her 20’s was techie Hunter Lee Soik, played by Saamer Usmani in the Netflix series, who introduced her to many of the socialites who became victim to her scams during that period.

The scams, she claims, are behind her. Although her publicist did initially ask Variety to pay $3,000 in glam for this photo shoot and when I declined, accepted a green juice and sparkling water.

Even if she hasn’t yet said she’s sorry or admitted she was wrong for her actions, she says she is more aware of the public’s perception of her, especially after seeing the publicity about her that she was largely blinded from while behind bars.

A woman looks at the camera in front of the New York City skyline.
Anna Sorokin poses on the rooftop of her apartment.
Casey Kelbaugh for Variety

“It took me a while to get on social media to see how people are perceiving me,”’ she says. “I didn’t do it in a day, it’s a process.”

“I realize how toxic it could be seen,” she continues, “if I were in a position of authority, and if I looked at somebody like myself, the younger generation to look at me and say that it’s an okay thing to do. I just felt defiant. I was like, ‘I already did everything that they wanted me to do.’ What else do you want from me?”

That being said, the negative comments don’t affect her much. “I find it interesting, I get over it quickly.”

I ask her if she ever experiences anxiety. “Not really,” she says laughing. The word seems like a foreign concept to her.

How about everything that transpired before she was caught? The texts she received from Rachel asking for the thousands of dollars she owed? Or the moment she realized she was never going to be able to get the requested documents to her leading investor? When all the lies began crumbling around her?

“I never really saw [the sequence of events] in that way, I don’t know,” she says, still smiling.

No matter her circumstances, she always manages to have a good time. When I wrap up my final question, she Postmates two bottles of wine for us to celebrate the end of the shoot. She pours two glasses and gives me a cheers: “Everyone’s saying I’m slumming, but I’m still living better than all of you.”

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