Anna Delvey – The Antiheroine?

Anna Delvey

“Maybe she had so much money she just lost track of it.”

The Cut

The Back Story

Anna’s story exploded onto the scene in this original article by The Cut in May 2018. Since then, tongues have been set wagging again about the exploits and adventures of Ms Delvey aka Sorokin – thanks to a new fictionalised version of the story by Netflix, which has topped the ‘most watched’ list for a few months now.

As you probably already know, Anna scammed her way into Manhatten’s ‘upper class’ social scene, leading many to believe she was incredibly wealthy. Posing as a German Heiress with a $60 million trust fund in her back pocket, she moved in affluent circles and was at every party, went on exclusive trips and stayed at luxury hotels… often leaving others with the bill.

“Nobody ever asked me how much money I had, and I never asked anybody how much money they had,” she said. “I also did not know about all these people’s parents, and neither did I care.”

Anna Delvey

Whilst creating a new identity and leading people to believe she was from money doesn’t sound particularly awful, the story gets altogether more serious when we learn that her manipulations went further than securing an invitation to the best events and pushing her way into certain circles so she could rub shoulders with the rich and famous.

It was whilst attempting to secure a $22million bank loan so she could build ‘The Anna Delvey Foundation‘, (a members-only club on Park Avenue), that things took a turn. Here she falsely claimed in legal documents that her trust fund could be used to repay the loans and she created fake identities such as ‘Peter Hennecke’ to vouch for her finances in order to get the loan approved.

When Anna was arrested, her trial in March 2019 found her guilty of eight charges overall, including grand larceny in the second degree, attempted grand larceny, and theft of service. These were in relation to the banks and hotels where she drummed up large debts. She was sentenced to 4-12 years in prison for her crimes.

“Anna is not the ‘Robin Hood’ character – taking from the rich to give to the poor (albeit herself, primarily) – some viewers are proclaiming her to be.”


Why has her behaviour been well-received by the general public?

The overall reaction to Anna doesn’t seem to have been overly negative, despite her actions being recognised as crimes by the courts she has been tried in. And whilst she has left behind her a trail of destruction, including victims who once thought of her as a friend… there seems to be very little sympathy for those she conned.

Is it simply morbid fascination? True crime is a popular and widely watched genre and Inventing Anna isn’t the only scam artist scandal that has caught the attention of the general public, her story joins that of The Tinder Swindler, Fyre Festival and Tiger King. What do they have in common? Larger than life characters that have big ideas, that are delusional in their beliefs and that truly believe they deserve the fame and fortune that they seek.

Whilst watching Anna’s story unfold, many can’t help but be impressed. Not only by the sheer audacity but the level she was able to achieve with her perfectly curated identity that she kept up until the very end, even going as far as hiring Courtney Love’s designer for her courtroom looks – refusing to wear anything but the very best by Michael Kors, Saint Laurent and of course her trademark Céline glasses, as she was tried for her crimes.

While many defendants alter their appearance to imply their old, nefarious ways are far behind, the alleged grifter—who reportedly duped Manhattanites into believing she was a German heiress for nearly four years— did the exact opposite.


Victim Shaming

Not only has Anna’s actions moulded her into this antiheroine caricature, there has been an outpouring of dislike and lack of empathy towards those she swindled. Whilst Rachel DeLoache Williams has become the victim people love to hate – we see the same behaviour directed at the victims of the Tindler Swindler and of course at Joe Exotic’s nemesis Carole Baskin.

Another reaction from people has been an air of ‘schadenfreude’, not something many will admit to. Comments from viewers online have echoed the same arguments of ‘I would never have fallen for this scam,’ ‘It would never have happened to me,’ and similar sentiments. An easy opinion to have from the sofa! In reality – particularly during the coronavirus pandemic – the number of people falling for scams has increased over the last few years with £2.3 billion lost last year to scammers in the UK alone.

“Inventing Anna mutes the most irresistible dimension of Delvey’s story — namely, the moral ambiguity at its heart. Who deserves wealth? No one does and yet we all do, and that’s why we love Anna Delvey.”

The Wire

Could it also be that at our very hearts we also believe in the ‘fake it ’til you make it’ mantra when it comes to achieving your dreams in life? Do we secretly champion those we feel have been ‘brave’ enough to actually go after what they want – something we wish we had the ability and confidence to do?

“While cheats and hustlers may be around every corner, the Anna Delveys and Simon Levievs of the world are elegant artists of manipulation. They are selling a dream that we all long for – a lifestyle of luxury we are conditioned to aspire to, of expensive clothes, holidays and dinners, and of fairy-tale romance, in the case of The Tinder Swindler. Being close to people like them offers a gateway into another world – and our yearning puts us in their power.”


Aspiring to live a life beyond our means – is it a crime?

Well, yes. It is if it involves defrauding people and businesses for your own gain. People will argue that these scammers didn’t physically harm anyone. They aren’t on the same scale as murderers or such like, so people feel as though their crimes are far milder in comparison. Often, it isn’t until you are the victim of a scam that you would worry or have the risk of being conned on your radar.

“We are terrified and transfixed by swindlers like Sorokin, not because we fear she’s coming for us, but because, deep down, we wonder how long until we become just like her.”

The Week

Overall, it’s an issue of morality. Anna has now gained everything she was trying to achieve in the first place. Her downfall became the beginning of her celebrity – something she had wanted so desperately and tried so hard to gain. Although she has been unveiled and her identity revealed, she has no need for her perfectly crafted Delvey persona anymore – people have transcended her into the realm of celebrity and with it, money will follow.

“I’m not sure I would call her a beloved figure, exactly, but the reason she is compelling is that sense of the rules being different for different people. It confirms to us that there are these different rules, that this world is calculated to keep outsiders out, and that, if you could just figure them out, and crack the code like Anna, you might be able to exist inside it, too.”

The Guardian

So many people reading about Anna’s story will feel some ‘hope’ in their heart that everyday people that come from nothing can make themselves into something – and it seemingly doesn’t matter how they do it or who they step on to get there.

Anna has painted a picture to the public of how she wants to be perceived and has been relatively successful with it. Many think she is just a delusional young woman that truly believes in her vision for her business and entrepreneurship – and many believe that she intended to repay those she ‘borrowed’ from. Something we will never know for sure.

“Sorokin said she always had a plan to pay everyone.” – Insider


So what now for Anna Delvey?

In March 2021, Anna was again arrested just six weeks after her release. This time by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for overstaying her visa. She is currently in jail, fighting her deportation. Does a leopard ever change its spots? Only time will tell.

‘All that glitters isn’t gold, and Anna wasn’t even that glittery.’


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