It’s not often the name “Gatsby” is invoked when describing someone. Yet that happens, time and time again, in stories about convicted fraudster Anna Sorokin.
Pretending to be a German heiress named “Anna Delvey,” Sorokin, now 31, scammed New York’s elite, hotels and banks out of about $275,000 in 2016 and 2017 while weaving tales of her moneyed background and interest in business and the arts.
Like the fictional character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatbsy, Sorokin set to climb the ladder of high society with elaborate lies and deception.
What Did Anna Sorokin Do?
“Soho grifter” Sorokin contrived her fiction by living in expensive hotels and reportedly tossing $100 bills for tips. She charged exorbitant amounts to credit cards, or outright conned hotel employees into letting her stay at their properties.
She attempted to launch the Anna Delvey Foundation, a multimillion dollar private club and art foundation, by holding lavish business lunches and dinners for prospective investors. With what The Times of London described as an “unplaceable, trans-European accent,” Sorokin discussed her foundation project with people like Gabriel Calatrava, son of the renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, and André Balazs, the hotelier owner of Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, the newspaper reported.
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At one point, she socialized with “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli, later convicted of securities fraud, and Billy McFarland, who was later convicted of defrauding investors for his disastrous Fyre Festival, USA Today reported.
Anna Sorokin’s Arrests
In reality, Sorokin came from a middle-class Russian family and did not have a college degree, substantial funds or tangible accomplishments.
She was first arrested in July 2017 after she skipped out on thousands of dollars of unpaid bills at two New York City hotels—the Beekman and the W New York—and dined and dashed after eating lunch at Le Parker Meridien hotel, according to the New York Post. She was scheduled to appear in court in September of that year, but never showed up.
She was arrested again on October 3, 2017 by the Los Angeles Police Department in a sting operation set up by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Charges included grand larceny and theft of services. Sorokin was held at Rikers Island, New York City’s main jail.
According to the New York indictment, City National Bank allowed Sorokin to overdraft her account by $100,000. Sorokin managed to keep $55,000, but “frittered away these funds on personal expenses in about one month’s time,” including hotels, high-end fashion, sessions with a personal trainer and more, the document states.
After a highly publicized trial, Sorokin was convicted of second-degree grand larceny, theft of services and first-degree attempted grand larceny in 2019. She was sentenced to four to 12 years in jail.
She was acquitted of the most serious charge, attempted grand larceny in the first-degree, in connection with a $22 million loan she tried to obtain from City National Bank. She also was acquitted of stealing from her friend Rachel DeLoache Williams, who worked in the photo department of Vanity Fair magazine and was bilked by Sorokin out of $62,000. The two women, and other friends, went on a $7,000-a-night villa holiday in Morocco in 2017 that Sorokin had promised to pay for, but never did.
DoLoache Williams helped participate in the sting operation to capture Sorokin.
In her 2019 book, “My Friend Anna,” DeLoache Williams described Sorokin as “a fraudster whose narcissism was despicable and whose scheming was indiscriminate.”
As for her allure, “Anna made it feel as though choosing to indulge wasn’t a yes-or-no, all-or-nothing decision,” DeLoache Williams added. “It happened one step at a time. She even made it sound reasonable.”
Sorokin described herself this way to The Times of London: “My ability to handle stress is pretty high and I don’t know where it comes from. I was just always like this.”
So who was Sorokin, really?
Who Are Anna Sorokin’s Parents?
Sorokin grew up near Moscow and, when she was a teenager, moved with her family to a small city in western Germany. She didn’t come from wealth: Her father was a truck driver and her mother, a homemaker. She first started going by “Anna Delvey” in Paris, where she interned for the fashion and culture magazine Purple, according to The Cut.
Sorokin claimed she used the name “Delvey”—which wasn’t on her passport—because it was her mother’s maiden name. That was also a lie.
Where Is Anna Sorokin Now?
Sorokin was released from jail in February 2021 for good behavior. She settled her debts and paid her state fines using money she received for the rights to her life story, according to Esquire magazine.
However, she was arrested again in March 2021, this time for overstaying her visa. As of February 2022, she remained in immigration detention while fighting deportation to Germany.
Sorokin’s known for taking a defiant stance when questioned about her crimes.
A day after her conviction in May 2019, she famously said, “The thing is, I am not sorry.”
In a 2021 interview with 60 Minutes Australia, she was asked, “Do you see this whole thing as a victimless crime?” Sorokin answered, “I don’t see this case as a crime at all. How about that?”
More recently, Sorokin seemed to take a more contrite tone. In a February 2022 interview with The New York Times, she said she was indeed sorry for her choices.
“With the benefit of hindsight, I would have changed lots of things, but this is just not how life works,” Sorokin was quoted. “So I am just building on my experiences and learning from them.”
Reporter Emily Palmer posted a snippet of the video call interview on Instagram.
“I like to think that my intentions were not fraudulent, if you look at fraud by its legal definition to permanently deprive somebody of their funds or property,” Sorokin said in the blurry video. “But in the end, it’s not my intention that counted, but how it was perceived, and how it affected people.”
[Update: Anna Sorokin was scheduled to be deported to Germany in March 2022, but has been granted a temporary stay of removal in the U.S. while her lawyer fights the deportation.]