News & Opinion | May 30, 2018 5:00 am

How This ‘Socialite Grifter’ Scammed Banks and Fooled New York’s Elite

Somebody had to foot the bill for Anna Delvey's opulent life, so she played everyone for marks.

Anna Delvey
Anna Delvey, the furtherest on the right, tricked everyone into thinking she was rich. Instead, everyone else was footing the bill. (L-R: Giudo Cacciatori, Gro Curtis, Giorgia Tordini, and Anna Delvey). (Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Everyone just assumed that Anna Delvey routinely lost track of who she owed money because she had so much of it. That’s why she would forget to pay when she invited others to eat at trendy Manhattan restaurants or on luxurious trips abroad. The pretty 20-something, who claimed she was inheriting a massive trust fund and was from Cologne, Germany, quickly became a ubiquitous figure on the New York social scene. She knew everyone, attended all the best parties, and appeared to be friends with everyone from the owner of Le Baron to Macaulay Culkin. She wore chic, designer clothing and there were rumors she flew to party with billionaires on private jets. When she did buy things, she only ever seemed to pay with cash.

But as Delvey made her way around the globe, questions arose about her finances, though no one confronted her while bills were still getting paid. Some people did find it weird that when she went on lavish trips, such as the one she took to Venice with Michael Xufu Huang, the young and dapper collector and founder of Beijing’s M Woods museum, she would ask those traveling with her to cover her plane tickets and hotel, promising to pay them back. But slowly, those friends started to realize that Delvey never came up with the money. Numerous Manhattan hotels locked her out of her room due to unpaid bills, and she always promised that a wire transfer was on its way. Eventually, the phony life of Delvey—real name: Anna Sorokin—began to unravel and finally came to grinding halt when she was arrested in California and brought to New York to face multiple counts of grand larceny and attempted fraud. Now, this former It-girl of Manhattan’s social scene is rubbing elbows with the other prisoners at Rikers Island, where she has been held without bail since October 2017.