The Oops List: Here Are the 5 Biggest Missteps That Landed Art-World Grifter Anna Delvey in Jail
It's up to the jury now to decide her fate.
It's up to the jury now to decide her fate.
After weeks of often damning testimony from dozens of witnesses in the trial of 28-year-old “socialite scammer” Anna Sorokin, better known in the art world as Anna Delvey, the case finally wrapped up yesterday and is now with the jury for deliberations.
Decked out in a white lace dress and her signature chunky black eyeglasses, Sorokin grinned as she entered the New York State Supreme Court on Tuesday. Her defense lawyer, Todd Spodek, again referenced in his closing arguments the Frank Sinatra song “New York, New York” and the romantic dream of an outsider “making it” in the city. He shifted the blame from Sorokin to her alleged victims, who he said failed to perform due diligence. He also insisted that although she may have posed as a wealthy German heiress, she was never “dangerously close” to securing the tens of millions in bank loans that she sought to open a “members-only” arts club and foundation on Park Avenue, to be called the Anna Delvey Foundation.
But while many observers have been bewildered by how Sorokin was able to fool people into believing her story, the allegations at trial suggested several extensive, sometimes comical, missteps. Here are five key blunders that led to her eventual indictment.
One of the first red flags that caught the attention of a banker at Fortress Investments, at which Sorokin had applied for a $30 million loan to pay for her purported arts club was a discrepancy in her place of birth. In conducting due diligence, banker Dennis Onabajo, who testified at the trial, asked why the place of birth listed on Sorokin’s German identification card was Domodedovo, which is in Russia. Meanwhile, the place of birth shown on her passport was listed as the German region of Düren. Sorokin, who was ultimately rejected for the loan, responded that Domodedovo was the birthplace of her younger brother and that the card-issuing agency had erred.
The Assistant District Attorney prosecuting the case, Catherine McCaw, presented an extensive digital trail that Sorokin left behind after investigators performed data extraction from her cell phone and laptop. In addition to finding Google searches about how to create fake emails that don’t bounce back, it revealed that Sorokin was the creator of email addresses for accountants named Peter W. Hennecke and Bettina Wagner. These accountants frequently emailed financial professionals as well as some of Sorokin’s alleged victims with phony asset statements—some with an illegitimate UBS bank logo—and promises of wire transfers for money owed. “The defendant, is, in fact, Bettina Wagner,” McCaw said, and Wagner “became a convenient fall guy when wires didn’t come through.” Later she said that any time Sorokin promised a wire transfer it was actually code for “‘I’m not going to pay you. Leave me alone now.’”
Sorokin’s machinations became increasingly surreal as 2017 wound on. Following an alleged unpaid stay at the luxurious Beekman Hotel in downtown Manhattan, she decamped to the W Hotel, where, despite using loyalty points to pay for the room, Sorokin quickly racked up more than $600 in mini-bar charges, attracting the attention of hotel management. “That’s a lot of M&Ms,” McCaw quipped during her closing arguments. Later, during a five-hour lunch at Le Parker Meridien restaurant that June, Sorokin was unable to pay her tab, which included “four glasses of wine and two smoked salmon sandwiches” as detailed in court. When Sorokin’s credit card did not go through, she insisted that her Aunt Bettina, due to arrive shortly from Germany, would be staying at the hotel and would take care of the bill. Prosecutors said the same credit card number had been used in a failed attempt to book a room at the hotel the previous day. Sorokin was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor.
After the incident at Le Parker Meridien, as well as another misdemeanor linked to the outstanding charges at the Beekman Hotel, Sorokin failed to appear for a court date in New York in September 2017. Instead, she went to Los Angeles and checked into a rehab facility.
A key part of the Sorokin trial centered around a trip she took to Morocco with now ex-friend Rachel Deloache Williams, a former photo editor at Vanity Fair, to whom Sorokin promised an all-expenses-paid trip. However, when Sorokin couldn’t produce a working credit card to pay for the $7,000-a-night luxury villa in Marrakesh, Williams got stuck with the $63,000 bill—an amount she said was more than half her annual salary at the time. She later chronicled her ordeal in Vanity Fair and has since struck book and film deals with Simon & Schuster and HBO. It only emerged at trial that a lunch date Williams had arranged with Sorokin in Los Angeles was actually part of a New York Police Department sting to arrest her. Sorokin’s attorney called Williams an opportunist for leaving her role in the sting out of the Vanity Fair story. (Williams responded that space limitations had led to the omission.)
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