Set in a Nightclub, Anna Delvey’s Solo Show Seemed Like Another Scam—and Then Her Artwork Showed Up
Models wearing Versace shades and black stockings over their heads brought in Delvey’s drawings on a catwalk.
There was no art at Anna Delvey’s solo art show. At least not at first.
That wasn’t the only hint that last Thursday’s event, called “Allegedly,” would be unlike a typical exhibition opening.
At the entrance, guests queued behind a set of glass doors on the second floor of a trendy Lower East Side hotel. Many looked like wannabe influencers; some were actual influencers; almost all were dressed as if they were about to hit an afterparty rather than an art show. Maitre d’s crossed visitors’ names off the “list,” bouncers scribbled X’s on their hands, and everybody shuffled in to the crowded bar.
The space was lit like a club. It sounded like one too, with a long-haired DJ blasting radio rap from the corner. A drag performer dressed like the night’s star broke into a feverish dance, yelling quotes from Netflix’s Inventing Anna. Bartenders churned out cocktails en masse, many in champagne flutes. The signature drink of the night: Anna on ICE.
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Delvey, whose real name is Anna Sorokin, was not present—but that was to be expected. She’s still detained at the Orange County Correctional Facility in Goshen, New York, where she faces deportation. More curious was the absence of Anna’s drawings, recently completed at the ICE detention facility using colored pencils, pens, and other cheap supplies sent to her by Chris Martine, the upstart artist’s dealer and the organizer of the event. Early examples of Sorokin’s work debuted in a group show dedicated to her in March—and Martine promised a slate of new pieces for this exhibition.
Restless guests gossiped about where the artwork might be. Several suggested that it didn’t exist at all, that the whole night was a rouse conceived as a kind of conceptual homage to the “SoHo Scammer.”
But then the music changed—Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights” came on—and the glass doors were flung open. The crowd parted to form a makeshift catwalk, down which white-gloved models strode holding framed drawings. Each wore chunky Versace shades and black stockings over their head, as if they were about to rob the joint. The audience, several flutes deep at that point, went wild.
After the runway show, the nearly two dozen drawings were moved to another floor, and guests followed.
As with the last batch of drawings, the “Allegedly” artworks find Sorokin in a self-deprecating mood, mixing cartoon captions, fashion sketch techniques, and a sardonic sense of humor to both riff on her own persona and perform it. One, for instance, features the artist in the courtroom, a sea of cameras behind her and a caption above: “Trial is the new sextape,” it says.
A drawing called Vanilla ICE depicts the artist amidst a throng of women in jumpsuits. A description below reads, “White privilege application status: denied.” Another shows Anna and a gaggle of faceless models posing on an institutional set of stairs in chic outfits: the “Corrections Collection,” according to an inscription.
Prior to the event, Martine, who represents Sorokin through his new advisory firm called Founders Art Club, said the drawings would be priced between $10,000 and $15,000 each. But come Thursday night, it seems they were only for sale as a complete series—and even then through a fractionalized arrangement.
QR codes on placards next to the artworks directed would-be buyers to a site that explained the 21-piece collection is being valued at $500,000 and that Founders Art Club is “selling up to 48% ownership in the Anna Delvey ‘Allegedly’ Original Collection to strategic investors.” The firm will always retain at least 53% of the collection. (Martine did not respond to emails asking whether or not any of the artworks were sold during the opening event.)
Meanwhile, lithograph prints of Sorokin’s sketches are for sale now at the Founders Art Club shop, starting at $250 a pop. Each belongs to an edition of 500.
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Sometime after the guests had all made their way upstairs, and the booze really started to blur the edges of the evening, Martine stood up to speak. “[Delvey’s] talent is dripping all over this room,” he said, before starting a “Free Anna” chant.
Then, after some technical difficulties, Anna appeared on a monitor in front of the room. Video chatting from Orange County, she wore black glasses and a traffic cone-colored jumpsuit—hardly a ‘fit for the Corrections Collection. The audio was spotty, but she thanked the night’s guests for being there and answered questions yelled out from the crowd.
Before signing off, the federal detainee offered up an update on her “foundation,” the social club/art space at the heart of her several hundred thousand dollar scam. “The Anna Delvey Foundation will definitely be realized,” she said, “just not in the same form.”
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