The Fake Socialite Who Scammed New York’s Elite – The Vault
When Anna Delvey arrived on New York’s party scene in 2016, she turned a lot of heads. She was name dropping New York’s elite, staying at lavish hotels, getting $400 eyelash extensions, and eating things that weren’t on the menu at some of New York’s most expensive restaurants; places I couldn’t get into if I offered to pay double and sit in the kitchen. She often tipped in $100 bills even for things people don’t tip for. Point is, she had all this money but no one around her really knew where it was coming from. I heard her parents were Russian oil billionaires. Excuse me, I have to get a drink. No. I heard they’re billionaires but in green solar energy. Bye. I said bye. Bro I heard her parents were diplomats and she got all her money from a trust fund bro. You spot me bro? Actually, none of those are true. Anna Delvey’s parents are everyday people. Her dad drives a truck in Germany. She’s just a really good liar; allegedly. And those lies defrauded banks, hotels, restaurants out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Everyone I’m Patrick Jones and welcome to the Vault. [MUSIC] Today we’re talking about Anna Delvey, who for years tricked the New York party scene into thinking she was anyone but who she actually was. Her story is wild and fascinating. Okay friends, buckle up because here we go. [BACKGROUND] Anna is all over the party scenes in New York City and the Hamptons. Art gallery openings, expensive dinners, luxury gyms, the Surf Lodge in Montauk; you name it, she was there. At this time Anna had a big goal. She wanted to buy real estate, specifically a building on Park Avenue South in New York City. It’s really big and features a 19th century church on the property. For you non New Yorkers, this is prime. If this property was a monopoly, you’d want to own it. You’d want to build hotels on it and you’d want to throw your success in your grandma’s face. Anna was telling anyone who would listen what her plans were for this space. She saw it as a dynamic visual arts center that would include art exhibits, pop up shops, restaurants, bars, a bakery, and a juice bar. But again, buying that space would be really expensive. To help her land this prize location, Anna talked to banks about loans, sought advice from financial counselors, and even hired a PR company. Seems like she was gaining momentum and then poof! [BACKGROUND] She leaves New York, telling some friends she needed to leave the United States briefly for Cologne, Germany as part of a visa issue. In February of 2017, Anna came back to New York and checked into 11 Howard. From there, she racked up a lot of bills. She would attend expensive personal training sessions [BACKGROUND] and eat at Le Coucou which is a restaurant owned by 11 Howard. Meaning she could charge these meals to her hotel bill. At the restaurant, Anna was a regular and charming enough that the head chef wouldn’t mind making her elaborate things that weren’t on the menu. I don’t think they’d even allow that at Denny’s. [MUSIC] Now we’ve hit the first patch of trouble for Anna. 11 Howard realized they didn’t have a working credit card on file and her bills were piling up. Don’t forget her Le Coucou bills are on that tab as well. Such a rich privilege to be like, “yeah, just put that on my tab.” While the rest of us are getting yelled at for trying to get free refills at Mickey D’s. Still Anna was able to buy herself some time by wiring a portion of her tab to 11 Howard, but not enough time and not enough money. During this controversy, Anna left the city on a $35,000 private jet ride to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway annual stockholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. Yes, I know. She’s having money problems and also spending $35,000 on a private jet. We’ll come back to that, I promise. [MUSIC] When she got back from Nebraska, Anna connected with Rachel Williams, a photo editor at Vanity Fair. In May of 2017, Anna, Rachel, and a few other people went to Morocco and stayed at an exclusive resort. We’re talking the top of the top. Unable to afford the trip herself, Rachel wrote in her Vanity Fair article that Anna essentially said, No trouble, all on me. We’re talking airfare, hotels, dinners. Rachel had a sugar momma taking her on the trip of a lifetime. Maybe you can see where this is going because this is the Vault, a show about crime and not a show about people having super fun times and trips. During the trip, the hotel started hounding Anna for a working credit card; which she didn’t have. They were polite about it at first thinking it was a misunderstanding. But eventually the hotel came down on their group hard. People from the hotel were fired for this. There was a lot of pressure here. So the staff cornered Anna and Rachel in their room and demanded someone hand over a credit card. That person ended up being Rachel. Rachel describes Anna as annoyed that the hotel was holding her up and said to Rachel, Listen, it’s just a little mix up. Can you cover this and I’ll pay you back in a week. At the time, Rachel was making under 60 grand a year and was now in the hole for more than $62,000. If you want more details on the trip, there was a great article in Vanity Fair about it all. [MUSIC] When Anna arrived back in New York City in June of 2017, she couldn’t go back to 11 Howard because they locked her out and took all of her stuff. So Anna checked into another luxury hotel, The Beekman. But got the boot from them too. There she had racked up a bill of $11,000. I still can’t believe these places let her go without a working credit card on the spot. But that’s the thing about Anna. She was so good at playing this rich character that these places just assumed she was good for the money. Meanwhile, Anna’s situation was becoming more dire. Her biggest goal, the property on Park Avenue South, was sold to someone else. The thing is, if that venture was successful, she easily could have made enough money to pay everyone back. On top of that, the press caught up to her. The New York Post came out with an article asking who this woman was who keep staying at luxury hotels only to stiff them on the bill, and the press weren’t the only ones. Turns out the New York D.A. was already on to Anna. Anna was arrested and charged with grand larceny, falsifying documents, theft of services, and other charges. She allegedly bilked somewhere around $275,000 from banks, restaurants, hotels, and friends like Rachel. Anna, whose real name is Anna Sorokin, was born in 1991 in Russia and now she could be facing as much as 15 years of jail time. Don’t forget, a lot of what she was trying to do centered around buying property for her Visual Arts Center. In late 2016, she tried to secure that funding by going to National Bank and asking for a 22 million dollar loan and she allegedly went into those meetings with documents claiming that she owned 60 million British pounds in assets. In one of the most amazing examples of playing it cool, she was successful in that meeting. National Bank only wanted Anna to wire them $100,000 which would cover their legal fees and also their costs of due diligence in investigating. Coming up with that money wasn’t particularly hard. She went to Fortress bank and allegedly said something like, I have a loan coming for 22 million. I just need $100,000 and when that loan comes in I’ll be able to pay you back right away. Fortress was in and it took that money and gave it to National Bank so they could investigate her. There’s also instances of her depositing fake checks to banks like City Bank and Signature Bank. Somehow she was able to pull funds out before the banks realized the checks were bad. That’s why Anna always had cash on her. She never had credit cards. She didn’t have credit and that’s how she built a reputation. People saw her flashing cash all over town. But everything came crashing down. By February of 2017, she pulled out of her deal with National Bank. At that point they had gone through $55,000 of the $100,000 she gave them to look into her. That 45 grand coming back to her bought her some time with 11 Howard, that’s why she was able to wire part of her bill as she went to Nebraska but as we know. Not enough time. Without the national loan she really was doomed. But there’s another twist, she owed Rachel, several hotels, the PR company she hired, restaurants where she threw parties. Remember that private jet? Yeah. She somehow got that trip on an IOU. With all the press covering Anna’s story, she seemingly has turned into the celebrity she pretended to be. There is even a reported Netflix series in the works where Anna will be played by Jennifer Lawrence. That’s as celebrity as it gets. If there was ever a movie about The Vault, I’d be played by Macaulay Culkin. [MUSIC] Anna set trial in early of 2019. It was a bit of a circus. [BACKGROUND] As Anna hired a fashion coordinator to dress her, and a very flashy lawyer who began his opening statement by talking about Frank Sinatra’s New York New York. In fact, Anna delayed the trial several times because she didn’t like what she was wearing. In the end, Anna was found guilty on eight charges. She was found not guilty on another charge of attempted grand larceny for attempting to obtain that 22 million dollar loan and also not guilty for allegedly stealing the $62,000 for the Morocco trip from Rachel. Anna Sorokin’s been sentenced to four to 12 years in jail. She must pay $200,000 in restitution and a $24,000 fine. The thing is, she would have served less time had she accepted the plea deal. It offered her just one year behind bars. In an interview with The New York Times, Anna said she wasn’t sorry and would probably do it again. However, she may not get the chance because once she’s released from prison, US Customs and Immigration says, they’ll look to deport her back to Germany. Let’s hope they’re paying attention over there. [MUSIC] Thank you everybody for watching The Vault. If you liked what you saw, please like, comment, subscribe. If you have stories that you’d like to see us animate and have fun with that are related to financial crime, we’d love to hear about it. Who doesn’t like a good true financial crime story. Thank you very much for watching.