Art & Culture

Who is the real Anna Delvey of Netflix hit Inventing Anna?

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadFeb 16, 2022 | 18:36

Who is the real Anna Delvey of Netflix hit Inventing Anna?

This whole story is completely true. Except for all the parts that are totally true too.

Netflix’s nine-part series Inventing Anna is based on the real-life conwoman Anna Sorokin, or popularly known as Anna Delvey. Netflix and the writers for some reason want to show Anna in a sympathetic light, while taking a stand on the capitalistic society, and the hustle culture of New York City. Though, not sure if they succeed in doing any of it. 


The story of the conwoman is not new, but it has been able to get the internet talking again just like when the story first broke in 2017. And definitely, it is one more show to feed the true-crime-hungry audiences. Going by the latest trends (hello Tinder Swindler), it seems like creators and viewers cannot get enough of financial con dramas. When did losing money ever feel this interesting? (Perhaps when it's someone else losing the money!) 


The real Anna Delvey. Photo: theannadelvey/ Instagram

But who is the real Anna Delvey? And how much of the Netflix show, which says, “This whole story is completely true. Except for all the parts that are totally made up,” is actually true?

Anna Delvey is the woman who fooled the closed-off circle of New York’s rich and elite into thinking and believing that she is a rich German heiress with an inheritance of over $60 million. She racked up an unpaid bill of more than $200,000 while fine-dining and living her way luxuriously through New York. And she almost convinced American banks of lending her at least $28 million.


She was born Anna Sorokin near Moscow, Russia. She moved to Germany when she was 15-16 years old. And no, she did not come from a wealthy family or had millions to her name in trust fund. She is not even German. As the show says, Anna landed an internship at a French fashion magazine, living in Paris, and then moving to New York.

It is in New York, after quitting her work at the fashion magazine, during 2013-17, that she faked her life as a rich German heiress.

She was definitely no ordinary woman. Even in her arrest and criminal status, she continues to fascinate and intrigue people. No wonder, producer Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Private Practice fame) wanted to flesh her out in her latest Netflix drop, though the show is mostly about how she affected others.


Did Anna steal a private jet? She did. She convinced the CEO of the private jet company to let her borrow the jet and promised to wire the money, which never came. The cost was around $35,000.

Anna Delvey Instagram post from 2015.


Did she crash Warren Buffet's party and meet the likes of Bill Gates? We don’t know. The real Anna told the Business Insider that she did infact attend the party of the richest people in the world. However, the Netflix series shows her being turned away by the security. Since Anna’s words can themselves be invented, we won’t know.

Was the Moroccan trip from hell true? Oh yes, it was. Anna, her friend Rachel and two others go on a trip to Morocco, only for Rachel to pick up the entire $62,000 bill, which she thought was going to be reimbursed by the rich Anna. Of course, that doesn’t happen.

Anna and Rachel in a picture from Morocco.

One of the juicer parts of the story is Rachel. The Netflix series does seem to have a personal vendetta against Rachel for some reason – trying to show her as the opportunistic villain. Perhaps it is because the real Rachel sold her side of the story to HBO. Soon, we should expect some more Anna Delvey drama, now from the point of view of Rachel.

Her arrest: The depiction of Anna’s arrest in the TV show is also true. She was arrested after being unable to pay her hotel dues. The hotel called the police on her, and that’s how the entire ruse of Anna Delvey came to an end.


Nora Radford: In the Netflix story of Anna, we see a rich Nora Radford who plays the character of a mentor for Anna’s boyfriend Chase and then eventually for Anna herself. Radford is also conned by Anna of hundreds of dollars on her credit card, however, she is reimbursed. But in real life, there is no Nora Radford.

The fictional Nora Radford. Photo: Netflix

The accent: Actor Julia Garner had to fake her accent to play Anna Delvey. Anna herself describes her accent with no roots, meaning with which her place of origin cannot be guessed. The New York Times says Garner’s accent came out a little too nasal with too much enunciation of every word, while the real Anna is a little soft-spoken, with subtle enunciation. However, Garner got the concept right, the real Anna says in an interview with the NYT, in not being able to attach the accent to a place.

The Courtroom: The Courtroom where the trial of Anna Delvey took place, was according to the New York Times, not as ‘less’ shabby or glamorous.

The reporter: Jessica Pressler for The Cut broke the story of Anna Delvey. In the Netflix show, she is named Vivian Kent. However, the series show the reporter actually convince Anna to let go of a deal offered by the prosecution and go to trial. This is one of those completely-made-up parts. And if it did happen, it would have been just as scandalous in journalistic ethics as the story of Anna herself.

The reporter also did not help the defence or ‘Team Anna’ collect evidence. Moreover, for the reporter, the story is important to win back her reputation from a previous scandal. However, in real, Pressler had already earned her reputation back with a 2015 story on how exotic dancers swindled money from rich and not-so-great men, which was made into a movie called the Hustlers starring Jennifer Lopez.


Anna Delvey was released from prison in 2021; however, she was arrested after 6 weeks again by the US immigration department for having overstayed her visa. She is now back in prison, fighting deportation. Moreover, she seems to be making money and a career out for herself using her criminal background. For instance, Netflix seems to have paid her over $300,000 for using her life story for Inventing Anna. Of course, though some of it has gone towards paying back what she owed, and her legal fees.


Netflix seems to be obsessed with true financial crime stories. Move over gritty and ghastly crime stories!

From The Tinder Swindler to now the Inventing Anna, creators and audience just can’t seem to get enough of the con artists. What makes the stories so interesting is that these are real people, with real names, and their very real social media presence.

WhatsApp and Instagram have played a key role in Simon Leviev and Anna Delvey’s case. The similarities are hard to miss: both Simon and Anna are Instagram obsessed, wanting to show off their exploits. And their entire image is built on Instagram itself, enough for the world to be convinced of their lies. It shows in a way how society has started to think.

But of course, they are different people, who came from different intent. Or at least in Anna’s case, that’s what the writers of the show want us to think.

Last updated: February 16, 2022 | 18:36
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