I hadn’t heard of Anna Sorokin until last month when I learned that Netflix had come out with a nine-episode miniseries based on her exploits. But reading about her life consistently and unfailingly left me baffled. For four years, she stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from people who thought they were her friends. And now she’s trying to sell her art from jail.
Anna Sorokin was born just outside Moscow in 1991, moving to Germany with her family at 16. She tried working at public relations companies and fashion magazines in the UK and France, with limited success. In 2013, Sorokin moved to New York, which became her main hunting ground. She enmeshed herself into New York’s elite social circles by passing herself off as a German heiress named Anna Delvey. She spent the next several years living in hotels, attending parties, and soliciting donations for an eventual arts space at the Church Missions House on Park Avenue. She racked up hotel bills worth thousands of dollars, went on expensive vacations, and conveniently forgot her wallet or claimed her cards weren’t working when it was time to pay. She even tried (and failed) to get a loan from two different banks for $22 million using fake documents she threw together on Microsoft Word. After one of her acquaintances realized what she was doing, the Manhattan District Attorney had Sorokin arrested on charges of first-, second-, and third-degree grand larceny, check fraud, and some misdemeanors. In the end, it is estimated she stole $275,000. After she was convicted in 2019, she was forced to pay fines and restitution on top of a prison term. She’s currently out on parole, having served only a fraction of her jail time, but is now in the process of being deported back to Germany.
One of the ways Sorokin has tried to remain active is by creating drawings commenting on her situation and having them posted on her social media pages. This has been enough for a merry band of supporters and sycophants to rush to her aid, protesting her deportation. The most dedicated of whom is Alfredo Martínez. Like attracts like, it seems. In the early 2000s, Martínez went to prison for creating and selling forged Basquiat paintings to two separate dealers. He started creating original work in prison, an example of which now hangs at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
Sorokin’s “art” is more like second-rate cartoons you might find in some third-rate newspaper. And to be a confidence trickster, one must be extremely confident and equally narcissistic, which Sorokin’s drawings convey. They all deal with her and her situation and how bad she has it, like her detainment by US immigration services. Five of her drawings were featured at a show at a Lower East Side location for $10,000 each to help raise money. Plans for a solo show in April are already in the works. This is despite Netflix already paying her $320,000 for the rights to her life story to make the miniseries mentioned above. Clearly, this is not the last we’ve heard of Anna Sorokin, much to everyone’s chagrin.