NEW YORK – At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, the doors opened for guests to take part in an art exhibition organized by chief crook Anna Sorokinaka “Anna Delvey” ― the bogus German heiress known for scamming high-end hotels, restaurants, and more or less the entirety of New York’s elite social scene.
Reluctantly, I attended SoHo Grifter’s event at a lounge in the Public Hotel in Manhattan, showing up about 40 minutes late because of who I am as a person. After riding the neon-lit escalators, I heard the loud, reverberating music before I even entered the lounge and saw a long line of patrons ready to enter the party.
“Is it like that since 7:30 p.m.? Like, a non-stop party? Or was it quieter? I asked the security guard.
“Yeah, it’s been that way from the start,” he replied.
Shortly after I arrived, an automated message from the Orange County Correctional Facility sounded over the living room speakers: “This is a collect call from Anna,” a county jail inmate. of Orange. To accept this call, press zero. To decline this call, hang up or press one.
The DJ asked patrons to calm down as cheers erupted from the audience. The attendees were expecting a supposed phone call from Sorokin herself. In April 2019, Sorokin was found guilty on eight counts, including theft of services and second-degree robbery, and ultimately sentenced to four to 12 years in prison.
As inspiration for Shonda Rhimes’ “Inventing Anna” on Netflix and a now-viral article by New York review, Anna Sorokin quickly became a household name – or at least Anna Delvey did. She was paroled in February 2021, but the following month was taken into the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where she remains, on pain of deportation.
Despite her previous fraudulent activities, she is able to exhibit ‘works of art’ worth nearly $500,000 for personal gain, while black and brown ICE inmates suffer unduly from higher bail high for less serious offences. Other than the random nature of Thursday’s event itself, I don’t understand why anyone – especially a woman like Sorokin, who was hailed for her good taste – would be proud to present these elementary sketches to the general public. Sorokin’s “art exhibition” was nothing but a manifestation of whiteness at work.
Of course, when whiteness and unchecked wealth (or rather, unfindable wealth) merge, extravagance abounds. It wasn’t the vibe I had in mind for an art exhibit; I thought I would walk into a gallery, get a descriptive brochure and a drink, and walk around the room. However, the event seemed to fit over Sorokin’s standards.
With a full open bar out back, the lounge was filled with the oddest assortment of guests: members of the press, fascinated fans, people who were obviously trying to impress each other, and influencers or more who were everything. just happy. be there. (apparently there was a waiting list for this eventaccording to the Founders Art Club website.)
I asked one person what brought him to the show. “I know Peter,” he said, as if I was supposed to know who it was. People directed their attention forward, phones and champagne flutes in their hands. The cocktail of the night was “Anna on Ice”, without actual ice.
Sorokin’s voice spoke to the party. “Hi everyone, Anna Delvey here. Hope you’re enjoying your evening so far. I’m so excited to unveil my very first art collection titled ‘Apparently,'” she said in her accent. ambiguous European.” I wanted to capture some of the moments of the last few years, both untold and iconic, using the limited tools at my disposal. Some parts are simple. Others are more abstract and will have a unique meaning and appearance to the viewer.
The message continued: “I studied fashion illustration in Paris and hadn’t really drawn until my trial. You have already heard so many voices, but this is the beginning of my story, my story from my point of view. Hope you enjoy the show.
The music started ― “Flashing Lights,” by Kanye West and Dwele ― and the show started. We were asked to clear a path. For the next 10-15 minutes, the models released all 20 sketches. The models were dressed in black, with transparent black stockings on their heads. Wearing oversized sunglasses, they walked around the dimly lit room. I was disappointed with designs that could barely pass the College Board’s AP Art exam, but fans devoured the show of it all.
A black and white sketch, titled ‘The Crimes of Delvey’, was modeled on the front page of a newspaper, with the banner headline ”THREATEN TO PUBLIC SAFETY’ FROM BACK ON GUARD”, over an image of Sorokin in a Dior dress lying on a bed like a damsel in distress. Another piece, “Anna on ICE,” showed Sorokin floating on an iceberg in yellow with a Department of Homeland Security glacier in the background.
Her “Retired Intern” skit depicts Sorokin in an Oscar de la Renta dress (she noted who she wore in various rooms) on a balcony overlooking a body of water. A fourth drawing by Sorokin depicted what appeared to be a cameo on Dr. Phil; the play is titled “Dr. PPPhil-gotten gains”, and the segment of the show is called “The Many Faces of Anna Delvey”.
After the procession, we were directed to the second part of the show – the unveiling – on the 17th floor of the hotel. A crowd eagerly gathered in the lobby for the next 15 minutes, blocking escalators and preventing real hotel guests from coming and going. A security guard told one insistent attendee that the art exhibit was secondary to him: “I care about the hotel.” While waiting near the elevator, I saw event staff, possibly members of Sorokin’s extensive team, taking the art upstairs.
At 8:51 p.m. I entered the elevator and was finally allowed to go up at the official art show ― obviously the models showing the sketches were just an appetizer. On the 17th floor, there were more drinks, leading the way to a large room where the 20 works of art were propped up on easels. Basking in the calm before the storm of people who were sure to follow, I walked around taking pictures of the sketches.
Each piece was signed in the right corner in cursive script: “Anna Delvey, OCJ, New York 2022”. Given Sorokin’s story, let’s say embellishment, it is unknown if the sketches were actually made by her. It’s also unclear who funded the entire event and whether Sorokin actually studied fashion illustration as she claims.
As I walked, I listened. A woman approached a member of Sorokin’s team. “We make roll call at 9:30, don’t we?” she asked, with a tinge of vocal frying. The team member said that would be when, if they could alleviate some of the connectivity issues at the detention center. At the moment, she was “just trying to do an Instagram takeover for Anna.”
Tired of standing and waiting, I sat down in a chair outside the showroom. Slowly more people started arriving. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a participant, a white woman, speaking into the lens of a cameraman filming nearby.
“I did a lot of research and felt very close to her,” the woman said. “She gave that confidence to everyone, and that’s why she shouldn’t be convicted of any crime.”
That’s when I knew it was time to leave. At 9:26, I left. There was more to the show, though: Apparently Sorokin appeared via video in a neon outfit and there was a drag queen performance.
My ability to pity Sorokin was initially non-existent, but as a journalist, I was curious to see how this art exhibit would even pan out. But after spending an hour among people who seemed to idolize her unconditionally, I officially had my fill.