Will Jennifer Lawrence Play Anna Delvey? As the Art-World Scammer’s Riveting Saga Heads to Netflix, New Details Emerge

The "Hunger Games" actress is whispered to be in the running to play the scammer in a possible film, even as Shonda Rhimes's Netflix series gets the go-ahead.

Left: Actress Jennifer Lawrence; Right: Celebrity-scammer Anna Delvey.

Television producer Shonda Rhimes will kick off her new five-year deal with Netflix with a drama based on everyone’s favorite art world grifter, Anna Delvey. The 27-year-old Russian, whose real name is Anna Sorokin, posed as a German heiress with plans to open a “dynamic visual-arts center,” cashing phony checks and swindling anyone and everyone who appeared poised and willing to help bankroll her luxurious lifestyle.

Shondaland, Rhimes’s production company, announced last August that it would be moving to Netflix after 15 years with ABC. Now, Rhimes and her longtime business partner, Betsy Beers, have given fans a glimpse of what to expect from the new Shondaland, offering a slate of eight new series entering production.

They include Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change, an adaptation of Ellen Pao’s memoir about fighting gender discrimination in Silicon Valley; Sunshine Scouts, a dark comedy about teenage girls surviving an apocalyptic disaster that strikes while they are at sleep-away camp; and, of course, a sure-to-be-juicy take on Sorokin’s New York exploits. So far, the only information available on the forthcoming Sorokin show comes from the Netflix press release:

Based on the New York Magazine article “How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People” by Jessica Pressler. Manhattan makes a new friend like no other. But is she the stuff American dreams are made of or is she New York’s biggest con woman? Is it a con if you enjoy being taken?

Shonda Rhimes. Photo by Presley Ann, ©Patrick McMullan.

Shonda Rhimes. Photo by Presley Ann, ©Patrick McMullan.

Sorokin became an instant sensation based on Pressler’s New York article, which described her improbable rise to prominence in detail. Rhimes acquired the rights to the New York article last month. The still-untitled Sorokin drama will be the first new Shondaland series personally developed by Rhimes herself since Scandal debuted in 2011.

According to a piece in Variety, an earlier article on the Sorokin saga in Vanity Fair by Rachel Williams, a photo editor editor for the magazine who got slammed with a $62,000 bill after an ill-fated trip with the scammer to Morocco, has also drawn interest from Hollywood. The Variety piece adds the tantalizing detail that both Jennifer Lawrence and Margot Robbie are “reportedly expressing interest” in playing Sorokin.

The Variety story also suggests some of the difficulties that might come from bringing Sorokin’s specific story to the big or small screen, given the kind of character she is: “One insider close to the situation has said the process has been difficult and that Delvey has been making calls to various talent and producers regarding whom she would like to play her.”

Anna Delvey. Photo by Matteo Prandoni, courtesy of BFA.

Anna Delvey. Photo by Matteo Prandoni, courtesy of BFA.

Meanwhile, Sorokin’s story continues to yield new twists. The latest is that fellow con-artist Billy McFarland, the man behind 2017’s notoriously disastrous Fyre Festival, appears to himself have been among her victims. (For those who missed it, the Fyre Festival saw jet-setting millennials shell out thousands of dollars for a weekend of luxury accommodations and A-list musical acts in the Bahamas, only to be put up in emergency tents and stranded in pouring rain as performers cancelled their appearances.)

According to a recent article in Page Six, back in 2013, Sorokin spent four months squatting at the SoHo loft where McFarland ran his now-defunct luxury credit card company Magnises.

“She had Balenciaga bags and clothes everywhere. The company wound up moving into a townhouse,” an anonymous source told the tabloid. “That’s the only way they got her out!” (McFarland is himself currently awaiting sentencing after having pled guilty to fraud in connection with the Fyre Festival.)

Billy McFarland, at the 23rd Annual Watermill Center Summer Benefit & Auction, the Watermill Center, July 30, 2016. Image courtesy Patrick McMullan/PMC.

Billy McFarland at the 23rd Annual Watermill Center Summer Benefit & Auction in 2016. Photo courtesy Patrick McMullan/PMC.

Other potential characters in a Sorokin series or film include child star Macaulay Culkin; hated pharmaceuticals magnate Martin Shkreli; celebrity fitness trainer Kacy Duke; and art world darling Michael Xufu Huang, a wealthy Chinese art collector who unwittingly financed Sorokin’s trip to the Venice Biennale.

Delvey’s carefully constructed world came crashing down in 2017, when she was arrested and charged with grand larceny. She currently remains in Rikers Island and is reportedly hoping to arrange a plea deal rather than going to trial. Her Instagram account currently identifies her as a “Retired Intern.”

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