A Second Shot for Anna Delvey? The Park Avenue Building She Claimed Would House Her Fake Foundation Is on the Market for $135 Million
The building is currently on lease to Swedish photography museum Fotografiska.
The Manhattan building of Anna Delvey’s dreams, the six-story property at Park Avenue and East 22nd Street, where the notorious scammer planned to house her unrealized art foundation, is up for sale for $135 million.
The property, which is being leased to Swedish photography museum Fotografiska, currently belongs to real-estate developer and mega-collector Aby Rosen. He purchased it through his firm RFR Holding in 2014 for $50 million. It’s listed with Official, a new real estate firm founded last month by brothers Tal and Oren Alexander.
The current listing price is a huge mark-up, but the building, which boasts an ornate rock-faced granite and Indiana Limestone facade, has since undergone a $30 million renovation, indoor and out, from Cetra Ruddy Architecture and Roman and Williams.
It also has a newfound infamy thanks to Netflix’s Shonda Rimes-produced series Inventing Anna, which recounted Sorokin’s misdeeds. (Julia Garner plays the title role.)
Built in the 1894 by architects Edward J. Neville Stent and Robert W. Gibson, 281 Park Avenue South was originally the headquarters of the Episcopal Church’s Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, and was called the Church Missions House. It was part of what was known as Charity Row, for the glut of charitable institutions located in the surrounding blocks.
Over a century later, the building caught the eye of Sorokin, a Russian immigrant with big dreams for making a name for herself in New York’s art world. Posing as a German heiress set to inherit a massive trust fund on her 25th birthday, Sorokin sought $29 million in loans to finance her foundation, which would have made 281 Park Avenue its headquarters.
“She had really, really good taste,” Nicole Oge, a founding partner at Official, told New York magazine’s Curbed. “I can tell you there is nothing like it: the detail, the character, the feeling, the lighting.”
But Sorokin maintained her lavish lifestyle by running up expensive hotel bills and depositing fake checks to fraudulently withdraw tens of thousands of dollars from banks.
In the end, Sorokin conned her victims out of $275,000, including leaving her friend Rachel Williams, then a Vanity Fair photo editor, with a $60,000 tab for a luxurious Morocco vacation. (Others who fell prey include Chinese collector Michael Xufu Huang, who was tricked into paying for Sorokin’s hotel room during the 2015 Venice Biennale.)
As the faux heiress’s scheme fell apart—she was arrested in late 2017—Sorokin also lost out on her chance at the Park Avenue property. In Inventing Anna, when Sorokin learns of the Fotografiska deal when her friends confront her over brunch she dismisses the story as “fake news!”
RFR signed a 15-year lease on the building with Fotografiska in 2017. (The property was initially advertised at $125 per square foot, but the museum is probably paying closer to $100.)
In addition to galleries for rotating photography exhibitions, the institution, which opened in 2019, boasts a restaurant, Veronika, and Chapel Bar, a tony private club beloved by art-world elites. (Fotografiska cofounder Jan Broman told Forbes he spotted the building from the window of a cab and then inquired about leasing the space.)
Sorokin’s plans for the foundation, which she detailed in an 80-page pitch deck for investors, included exhibitions with artists such as Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Urs Fischer, and Jeff Koons. Supposedly, Christo was going to wrap the building as part of the opening festivities, and Daniel Arsham would curate a series of pop-up shops.
There would also be an artist residency program, three restaurants, a juice bar, a night club, and a bakery specializing in German treats such as strudel and laugen pretzels. The board members were said to include Rosen himself, as well as architects Santiago and Gabriel Calatrava, Purple magazine founder Oliver Zahm, and Alban de Pury, son of auctioneer Simon de Pury.
Whoever purchases the building, which is inspired by Medieval Dutch architecture, will become only the fourth owner. Before Rosen, it belonged to the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, which paid just $910,000 for it in 1963.
The building has had landmark status under the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission since 1979, and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982.
In 2021, Sorokin was released from prison, but was quickly picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She has been fighting her deportation to Germany, and is currently in an ICE detention center.
During her incarceration, Sorokin began making art of her own. In March, she had her first show at a gallery on the Lower East Side. A solo show where models displayed the art as if walking the runway followed during Frieze New York. Sorokin claims to have made $150,000 in sales of prints of her drawings. Her most recent endeavor is an NFT project.
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