Inside Anna Delvey’s House Arrest Party Nightmare

Anna “Delvey” Sorokin has a soft spot for ambition gone awry.

Sitting in the bedroom of her sparse Manhattan apartment, Sorokin is harping on the legal definition of fraud, insisting that she never “intentionally” or “maliciously” tried to deprive anyone of anything, as the law would tell you.

“I was just trying to make my passion happen and I felt like if I couldn’t do it this way, I had to do it that way,” she tells me. “It was never like, let me commit fraud and take advantage of anyone. In my head, everybody would be made whole.”

The “passion” she’s referring to was an arts foundation (the kind of project undertaken by people who have already made a fortune doing something else), and her way, it should be noted, involved brazenly swindling banks in a manner that left New York judge Diane Kiesel “stunned.”

Still, the fake heiress who scammed her way through New York City high society doesn’t appreciate being lumped into the bucket of notorious charlatans who have captured the public’s fascination in recent years. She rolls her eyes at the mention of convicted Fyre Festival fraudster and alleged former friend Billy McFarland, yet sticks up for “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli, the hedge fund manager who spent over four years in prison for securities fraud. He’s “a friend of mine,” she tells me, and the medication that he bought and hiked up by 5,455 percent, dubbed a “life-saving” HIV drug by some media outlets, is not even used by that many people, she argues. “And that’s not why he went to prison.”

It’s a Thursday night, and Sorokin—dressed in the Norma Kamali gown and a faux fur shawl she wore to a Forbes photo shoot earlier that day—is hosting a party, ostensibly to help promote Passes, a startup platform where fans can support their favorite artists and content creators by subscribing to their feeds. Sorokin, whose own art is scattered around the barren living room, has been enlisted as one of the first high-profile users. OnlyFans is too closely associated with porn stars, the thinking goes. Passes, she tells me, is meant for more traditional artists. “But doesn’t Patreon already exist?” I ask. I never get an answer.

As the guests take turns rotating between two armchairs, it quickly becomes apparent that everyone is there for something. A woman waxes poetic about her friendship with Sorokin. It turns out she works for an alcohol distributor and supplied all the beverages, including the evening’s favorite: the moderately priced Château d’Esclans Whispering Angel rosé. Later that night, Sorokin would have another bottle delivered. A delightfully drunk Lucy Guo, the 28-year-old centi-millionaire founder of Passes, bounces from conversation to conversation before saying her goodbyes and walking out the door to catch a flight, satisfied with her drop-in. There’s Sorokin’s art dealer, who tells me that the pair have sold close to $250,000 worth of her creations, half of which goes to him. Among Sorokin’s pieces are self-referential drawings about her legal troubles and a painted canvas with an upside down “V” scratched into it.

Rounding out the guest list are multiple journalists who may or may not be writing about this soiree. Sorokin still has close friends from her social life before prison, she tells me, but she’s not very close to her parents, who never visited her behind bars. One thing is obvious: The interloper with the inscrutable past—who forged financial documents to take out huge loans and lines of credit that opened stubbornly closed doors—has become the interloped.

“I’m still in touch with the people who matter,” she tells me. “And the ones I’m not, they don’t.”

Photo by Mike Coppola/AD/Getty Images for ABA

Sorokin herself is perfectly nice. At 31 years old, she’s not the irritable, spoiled girl-child portrayed in the hit Netflix series Inventing Anna, which paid her $320,000 for her life rights.

“I made so many bad choices, I want to say, because I was young,” she told me from the dark in her bedroom, where we retreated for 20 minutes so I could record her in silence. The glow of the East Village shines through her window, illuminating her thick eyelashes (not real) and pillowy lips (they look new). She’s on house arrest, ankle bracelet and all, as her immigration case plays out. “New York is the only city where, when I’m here, I don’t feel FOMO,” she says. “I just love the essence of the city. You can get anything done at any time of the day. You can always find a person who is willing to get something done for you.” It’s true. Confined to her renovated one-bedroom, her red acrylic nails were freshly done, as were her hair and makeup. At least two people told her to let them know if she needed anything.

I made so many bad choices, I want to say, because I was young.

When she got hungry around midnight, she ordered tacos on Uber Eats. Any that remained would end up in the garbage because she doesn’t know how to work her air fryer and she doesn’t cook, a fact that the sculpture sitting on her stovetop makes abundantly clear.

The party now comes to her, but that has its downsides. She confides in me that she sometimes feels like she can’t kick people out; after all, they know she has nowhere to be.

She’s knowing and a little funny, like when she jokes that cushy lifestyles breed brats. “I will create artificial adversity for my children,” she promises. After moving from her native Russia to Germany as a teenager, she spent most of her late teens and early twenties bouncing around Europe—including a stint as an intern at a fashion magazine in Paris—before landing in New York at around 22. She says she never felt nationalistic pride, declaring, “I think it’s for simpletons.”

But the glimmer of her preternaturally confident personality, all giggles and chill, dimmed when she tried to pick up the language of social justice. She talks about how most of the population in Rikers Island is Black while the judges in New York are all “white males who grew up in the ’50s and ’60s.” She calls herself an immigrant who was “labeled as a white girl.” She thinks maybe things would’ve been different for her if she were a man like Sam Bankman-Fried, the co-founder of cryptocurrency exchange FTX who’s facing widespread charges of fraud. “He’s either really that stupid, which is so sad…if he was a woman, he would be such a witch. But now he’s like this affable guy. ‘Well I didn’t know. I didn’t know how to code,’” she says, dropping her voice an octave. “It’s like, come on, which one is worse?” The fact that someone like Sorokin can semi-convincingly wield the language of victimhood says a lot about where we stand in the age of socially conscious doublespeak.

In a lot of ways, Sorokin got what she wanted. More than a handful of times over the course of the past week, friends of mine (most of them young women) revealed a sense of subversive admiration for Sorokin and the way that she seemingly bent the world—and the law—to her will. In a country that rewards self-mythologizing, she successfully made something of herself, and can now market that in any number of ways. I suspect that’s part of the reason she’s fighting so hard to stay in the U.S. Here, we care.

We end up chatting on her two chairs for 90 minutes after everyone leaves. At a certain point, I gesticulate a little too energetically and send a champagne flute crashing onto the painted hardwood floor. The Whispering Angel, it seems, has gotten a little louder. I apologize profusely and offer to pay for the glass but never do, and I go home.

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