Anna Delvey: The Socialite Who Conned New York

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She lived a secret life as a millionaire, mixing within the New York socialite scene. A potential heiress, it was never clear where Anna Delvey was from, but one thing did remain, she suspiciously paid for everything in cash.

Anna Who?

Anna Delvey lived the life of a millionaire heiress. She would hang out among New York’s socialites, including many celebrities. When asked about her background, Anna rarely gave the same answer twice. Despite the inconsistency, Anna knew exactly how to act like she came from money, avoiding suspicion for years.

Just Another Heiress

Like many heiresses, Anna circulated around the city from hotel to hotel, with no permanent residence. Occasionally, she would have to leave the country to renew her tourist visa. Anna eventually checked in to the boutique Soho hotel on 11 Howard Street in early February 2017, where she planned to stay for a while. Anna knew just the right people and earned herself a reputation, thus the hotel managers did not even ask her for a credit card at the time. Something they would later on regret.

A Lavish Lifestyle

Anna was not shy of flaunting her money. She would wear Gucci sandals, Céline sunglasses, and other high-end designer clothing like it was nothing. After a month at the hotel, Anna approached Neffatari Davis, the 25-year-old concierge at 11 Howard, who goes by the name “Neff.” She would ask Neff for advice, for example for “the best food in Soho” and each time Anna would slip her a $100 bill for her service. Neff found this unusual from a girl who seemed to be the same age as her.

A Mysterious Red-Head

When Neff asked the pale young girl with reddish hair for her name, she checked the system and noted that Delvey was booked into a Howard Deluxe, one of the hotel’s midrange rooms at about $400 a night. Over the next few weeks, Delvey often asked for Neff’s advice, slipping her bills each time. But Neff eventually realized that Delvey already knew all the places to go. Not only that, but she knew the names of the bartenders and waiters and owners!

A Blossoming Friendship

It soon dawned on Neff why Anna was asking for advice. “This is not a guest that needs my help,” she later said. “This is a guest that wants my time.” To Neff, this was not unordinary, as she often acted as a therapist to many of the guests. Being an aspiring cinematographer, Neff figured it was a good idea to befriend the guest as Anna’s connections could come in handy for her career. It was not long before Anna and Neff would hang out together around Soho.

Most Generous Guest

Despite many of the other hotel employees taking a disliking to the rich girl and finding her frequent visits to the concierge desk annoying, they soon began to “fight” to take packages to her room. Noting her generous reputation, staff members began to fight as they knew they would receive a $100 bill in return. Anna soon walked around the hotel as if she ran the place. She would pay for everything in cash and usually $100 bills. No one questioned any of this.

Making Assumptions

“She gave to everyone,” said Neff. “Uber drivers, $100 cash. Meals — listen. You know how you reach for your credit card? She wouldn’t let me.” Anna spent money like it was water. Her room would overflow with shopping bags from Acne and Supreme, and she would often treat herself to all kinds of beauty treatments. She even invested in a personal trainer for a crazy $4,500. Others around her made assumptions that she was wealthy, most likely an heiress to a rich family, especially given her European accent.

Mixing With Celebrities

Neff noticed her new friend “knew everyone.” She would host and organize large dinners at Le Coucou, an expensive restaurant attended by CEOs, artists, athletes, even celebrities. Of course, Neff was invited to these high-profile dinners and one night found herself sitting next to childhood idol Macaulay Culkin. Neff described the experience as awkward. “I had so many questions. And he was right there. But they were talking about, like, friend stuff. So I never got the chance to be like, ‘So, you the godfather to Michael Jackson’s kids?’”

A People Person

“She was at all the best parties,” said marketing director Tommy Saleh, who met her in Paris during Fashion Week. Anna was an intern at European magazine Purple and appeared to be close with the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Olivier Zahm, and André Saraiva, an owner of Le Baron. “She introduced herself, and she was a sweet girl, very polite,” said Saleh. “Then we’re just hanging with my friends all of a sudden.” She was most certainly a people person and knew how to mingle her way into crowds.

The Right Places

One friend said, “She managed to be in all the sort of right places.” She would turn up to parties on private jets and dressed in fancy designer clothes. Those that knew Anna were still unsure where she came from. She told people Cologne, but her German was not very good. Unclear to many where her money came from, people did not find it unusual. “There are so many trust-fund kids running around,” said Saleh. “Everyone is your best friend, and you don’t know a thing about anyone.”

Forgotten Promises

Anna was introduced to Michael Xufu Huang, the extremely young and successful collector and founder of Beijing’s M Woods museum. The two immediately clicked and Anna suggested that they take a trip together to Italy to go to the Venice Biennale. Huang found it “a little weird” when Anna asked him to book the plane tickets and hotel on his credit card. Although to him it was not a lot of money (only around $3,000!), Anna promised to pay him back.

The All Expenses Paid Trip

While on their trip, Michael found it strange that Anna paid for everything in cash. Despite this, it was not bizarre enough for Michael to spot the warning signs. Once they returned from Venice, Anna seemed to have forgotten her promise to pay Huang back. After some time, he forgot about it too. However, in Anna’s defense, being superrich can make you forgetful and make you do other strange things like call a friend to have her put a taxi from the airport on her credit card, doesn’t it?

The Birthday Party

Anna decided to hire a PR firm, as most would, to organize her birthday party in January. The party took place at Sadelle’s in Soho, one of her favorite restaurants. Michael attended along with many other “very cool, very successful people.” It was not until after the dinner that Michael received a message from the restaurant, who had seen them pictured together on Instagram. The restaurant asked Michael for Anna Delvey’s contact details because “she didn’t pay her bill.” Michael finally saw the warning flags!

Questions And Speculations

Despite acquaintances wondering how she was able to fly from country to country, they did not ask many questions. However, now questions were beginning to arise about Anna’s origins. What was her story? An owner of a surf lodge in Montauk said she thought Anna had “family money.” One friend was sure that Anna’s father was a diplomat to Russia, while another insisted he was an oil-industry titan. Speculations did not match and people began to get suspicious.

The Delvey Family

Furthermore, a friend (and millionaire tech CEO) was convinced Anna belonged to the Delvey family in Germany that is big in antiques. But this was not the case. No one seemed to know the true story of Anna Delvey. The CEO had met Anna through a previous boyfriend who she hung out with at the most wealthy of places. Despite all the speculations going around, Anna did not seem phased. For Anna, the more questions about her, the better the chance of reaching her goal.

The Anna Delvey Foundation

Anna Delvey had a goal to open her own private arts club once she had turned 25 and came into her trust fund. She came up with the name The Anna Delvey Foundation, or ADF, and hired Marc Kremers, a London creative director, to help her with the branding. She found the location for her club at 281 Park Avenue South. The project was not easy and she would need to take out millions of dollars in loans. Anna managed to find someone to help her.

More Promises

Anna tactfully convinced her financial partner to invest in the property, stating that “her personal assets, which are quite substantial, are located outside the US, some of them in trust with UBS outside the US.” She promised the firm that she had the funds and that she would not embarrass them. When the banker replied asking to see UBS statements, a man named Peter W. Hennecke replied with projections. The banker questioned Hennecke’s AOL address for Anna to come back saying, “Peter is head of my family office.”

Mixing With The Wrong People

Anna kicked off her fundraising and began inviting wealthier guests to her dinners. One of whom was “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli, who was later convicted of securities fraud. Shkreli is currently serving time in prison. As soon as Neff learned about his wrongdoings, she tweeted that he had leaked tracks from Tha Carter V, the delayed Lil Wayne album, to her and Anna. Anna was furious about this and would not talk to Neff for days. Little did she know, Anna had learned a trick or two from him.

The Downward Spiral

One night when Neff and Anna were out for dinner, it was clear Anna was having money issues. She tried to pay the bill with around 12 credit cards, all of which were declined. On top of this, she still had not paid for her stay at 11 Howard. Being that Anna was supposedly a German heiress and a client of the hotel’s owner (the owner owned the location she was attempting to purchase), the hotel agreed to accept a wire transfer for payment. But after a month and a half, they were still waiting.

A Delicate Issue

Neff’s manager at the hotel called and asked her to deal with the delicate issue of Anna’s hotel bill. The hotel did not have a credit card on file for Anna Delvey and the wire transfer she promised had not arrived. Delvey owed the hotel about $30,000, including charges from Le Coucou that she’d been billing to her room. Neff was not sure what to think but believed that Anna was good for the money and it would arrive.

Something Miraculous Happened

Finally, things seemed to be back on track. Miraculously, Citibank sent 11 Howard a wire transfer on behalf of Ms. Anna Delvey for $30,000. However, this was not the end of Anna Delvey’s problems. Despite being repeatedly asked by hotel management, she still hadn’t provided a working credit card. With charges continuing to mount, the hotel employees followed through with their earlier threats and changed the code on her door, putting all of Anna’s things in storage. Anna was furious.

Sweet Revenge

Anna used a little trick she had learned from her fraudster friend, Martin Shkreli. She told the hotel managers that she would purchase web domains in all of their names so that they would have to pay her one day to get them. Before leaving, and inspired by Khloé Kardashian, she reserved a $7,000-a-night riad, a traditional palace in Morocco, and set off.  She went with her trainer, Rachel Williams, and a videographer, who she was hoping would make “a behind-the-scenes documentary” about the creation process of her arts foundation.

Morocco Madness

Two days into their trip, Anna’s personal trainer returned to New York with a nasty case of food poisoning. A few days later, the trainer received a hysterical phone call from Anna saying that her cards were not working to pay the hotel and they were going to arrest her. After pleading with the manager, the trainer gave her own credit card details. This card also did not go through. After trying and failing with one of her friend’s card, the hotel acknowledged the problem might be on their end.

From Hotels To Homeless

After her trip, Ann returned to 11 Howard to pick up her stuff. She moved to another hotel but ran into the same problems. She was unable to provide a valid credit card to pay her $11,518 debt and so her belongings were confiscated and she was kicked out. Anna was now on the streets of New York City. She turned up at her trainer’s apartment and begged her to let her stay the night. The trainer was on a date and did not want her, but she could sense the urgency.

Scam Artist

Finally, the hotel in Morocco chased down Anna’s personal trainer, Rachel Williams. After being threatened with jail time she was forced to pay up to $62,000, more than her annual income. She realized she had been scammed and that she had absolutely no idea who Anna really was. She told Anna to leave her house. Anna remained in the lobby insisting Rachel let her back up, but she refused to let Anna in. All the hotels in the city would not let her stay. She even begged her lawyer but he refused.

Time For An Intervention

Rachel invited Anna to a dinner. Unbeknown to Anna, it was actually an intervention where Rachel and a group of other people Anna owed money to would attend. The intervention was harsh and at one point Anna started crying saying that she would have enough money to pay everyone back once she gets her lease signed. Her “friends” revealed to her that the location she wanted for ADF had been rented out to someone else. Anna claimed it was “fake news.”

 

Busted!

Anna was arrested for her outstanding bills and the headline “WANNABE SOCIALITE BUSTED FOR SKIPPING OUT ON PRICEY HOTEL BILLS,” was all over the newspapers. Anna’s lawyer got her out on bail. She then somehow took a trip to California where she was arrested again. She was forced to return to New York “to face six counts of grand larceny and attempted grand larceny, in addition to theft of services.” Anna was sent to Rikers Island jail without bail. She is currently awaiting trial and facing a possible 15 years in prison.

Who Was Anna Delvey?

It was revealed that Anna’s real name was Anna Sorokin and she was born in Russia in 1991. Her family moved to Germany in 2007. She was in fact not an heiress but came from a working class family, with no trust fund. Anna is still trying to talk her way out of paying for her crimes. She offered the judge a plea deal of one to three years imprisonment. This was unsurprisingly rejected. In return the judge offered three to nine years imprisonment but Anna turned this down, electing to go to trial.

Sociological Experiment

According to the judge, Anna has shown “no remorse” for her actions. While Anna awaits trial, there is going to be a Netflix series made based on her life. A judge has said that Anna is more concerned with who will be playing her in the series than her crimes. According to Anna’s lawyers, she is not suffering in jai. In fact, she seems to be doing very well. She has described the experience as a “sociological experiment.”

How Did She Do It?

It is believed that Anna Sorokin allegedly scammed people and numerous banks and hotels for around $275,000. Experts think she used falsified documents to acquire loans from banks, showing that she had millions of dollars in banks in Europe. She also floated bad checks between banks and took out credit that she was unable to pay back. Perhaps her plan was to pay it all back after her ADF business took off the ground. But I don’t think anyone would have held their breath to see that happen.

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