Anna Sorokin And Our Obsession With The Seductive Scam Artist

Columnist Pandora Sykes looks at why we can’t resist a tale about swindling...

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I read the interview with - aka Anna Delvey, the ‘Soho grifter’ and the ‘socialite scammer’ charged with six counts of grand larceny in Manhattan - with what can only be described as bemused delight.

'Anna and I talked on the phone about what she was interested in wearing [to her trial]' Walker, a stylist who has worked with Courtney Love (gear-change), told LouisvuittonShop.com. 'I couldn't show her photographs' as Sorokin was detained in Rikers Island jail until the trial, 'but as people interested in fashion, we spoke in references about the themes' themes! 'she wanted to come through [in her outfits]. I selected some timeless pieces,' which included Miu Miu last Tuesday and Saint Laurent on Thursday 'given that everything is so public today and [trial] photographs can be saved, potentially, forever.' According to her lawyer Todd Spodek, Anna 'didn’t want to appear in Rikers clothes and her clothes were dirty and not pressed.'

Besides the obvious Friends-style suspension of disbelief - replace 'how do they afford a flat like that in Manhattan?' with 'and with what money is she paying this stylist and her associated Miu Miu frou frou?' - what struck me, reading this exchange, is that even in her outfit choices, Sorokin is still making not just tabloid, but broadsheet headlines.

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For those of you unfamiliar with this addictive and strange story: now 28-year-old Russian-born Anna Sorokin was charged with multiple counts of grand larceny (theft), after posing as a worldly young German named 'Anna Delvey,' setting up her own contemporary art foundation. Over a two year period, she collectively swindled wealthy acquaintances, hotels, banks and stores to the tune of $275,000.

Sorokin did not operate quietly: she hung out with Macaulay Culkin; she used the celebrity trainer who sculpted Dakota Johnson’s buttocks for Fifty Shades. The daughter of a former truck driver, paying vast bills with cheques that bounced in her wake, she had 'chutzpah' and 'moxie' says Spodek. He claims that her 'fake it till you make it' mantra was New Yorker parlance. In the age of social media, he said, could she really be blamed for her 'delusions of grandeur'?

Is Spodek right? Are we gripped by Sorokin’s moxie? Another apt adjective would be ‘notorious’. It seems to me that ‘notoriety’ and ‘celebrity’ have become conflated. The ascent to fame is no longer merely hinged on the flimsiest foundations - but on the morally dubious, too. Sorokin is one of a slew of celebrities in the last few years, to have acquired fame through crime. Jeremy Meeks, a former Crips gang member charged with grand theft, shot to fame as ‘the hot felon’, after his mugshot - of a pretty, pouty man, with a frisson lent by his teardrop tattoo - went viral in 2014. Before long he was walking down international fashion catwalks and now has a child with millionairess Chloe Green.

It seems to me that ‘notoriety’ and ‘celebrity’ have become conflated.

And if we’re talking scammers who continue to beguile the public, may I proffer up . The founder of an innovative blood-testing start-up, Theranos, which was revealed to be nothing more than a $10 billion con, there is currently a (watch it, it’s good) and a film in the works, starring Jessica Chastain as Holmes. And don’t get me started on Fyre Festival’s Billy McFarlane (no, seriously, don’t - I haven’t got the word count). Rumour has it he’s planning another festival and I bet you an Instagram Story that he will have no trouble selling the exorbitantly priced tickets to that gig. I can imagine the Buzzfeed article now: I went to Wyred festival and it was exactly the scam I hoped for!

Style psychologists have dissected Sorokin’s wardrobe with enthusiasm. An eye-rollingly popular mode of analysis for women (but obvs never men!), this week’s apparently redemptive piece of clothing piece coming in the form of the 'public apology roll-neck,' , and refuted by me, given that Holmes wore a black poloneck the entire way through running her ultimo scam. But I’m less interested (forgive me) in Sorokin’s rather dull camel sweater and pancake-flat ballet flats (although the choker and black dress, with a hint of milky cleavage, are deliciously Cruel Intentions.) What I find more interesting is that we are covering this at all. And yes, I consider myself complicit.

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The (scam) artist formerly known as Anna Delvey continues to titillate because of her outrageous audacity. It is not moxie - because that suggests something admirable - but audacity: a two-fingers to the establishment during a (snore) ‘turbulent political time’. Hiring a stylist to dress you in labels which cost thousands of pounds for a trial in which you scammed people out of thousands of pounds, is audacious enough to be delicious. Sorokin’s case is less about - there’s something about this woman that suggests she will never truly hit the skids - and more about the sumptuousness of her guile.

Hiring a stylist to dress you in labels which cost thousands of pounds for a trial in which you scammed people out of thousands of pounds, is audacious enough to be delicious.

The case of Anna Delvey is proof that we are culturally obsessed with material objects, sometimes to the detriment of rational thought. Delvey's ostentation defied background checks. A concierge on the reception of the first boutique hotel that Sorokin stayed at was suspicious, but liked the $100 bills that Sorokin slipped her too much to do anything about it. Sorokin no longer has fistfuls of cash at her disposal, but she is not done manipulating her audience. By noticing her demands in the courtroom and beyond, we are still orbiting around her. We think we are ‘above’ Anna Delvey; but isn’t it really a collusion?

Being riveted by Anna Sorokin feels less unedifying than admitting an obsession with Courtney Stodden or Octomum. This is not car-crash-commentary of a scantily clad Z-Lister; this is a like watching a heist in real-time. At a time when we are obsessed with true-crime () Anna Sorokin is the Real Deal. That doesn’t make it right. But oh, it tastes good.


Pandora Sykes in black and white
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Pandora Sykes

Pandora is a Contributing Editor to LouisvuittonShop, a columnist for and the co-host of podcast .

You can find her on Twitter and on Instagram .

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