Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images, Herald PR
At around 9:30 p.m. Thursday night, a room full of guests gathered around two televisions on the 17th floor of the Public Hotel in New York City, eagerly waiting for Anna Delvey to troubleshoot ICE app tech issues and video chat in his first solo art exhibition. . While the artist, née Anna Sorokin, couldn’t be there in person – the convicted con artist, who spent two years in prison after swindling New York’s elite out of thousands of dollars, is currently being held in a ICE detention center in Orange County after overstaying her visa – that didn’t stop her from arranging her return.
The show, a one-night-only event titled “Allegedly,” comes on the heels of Delvey’s return to the public eye thanks to Netflix’s TV show loosely based on his life, Invent Anna. The night started in one of the hotel’s dark lounges, which was comfortably packed by the time I arrived at 7:45. Clubby music blared as bartenders poured wine and champagne. The majority of the guests seemed to be from the press, although I ran into two friends of the DJ, a Danish documentarian whose friend worked at the hotel, and a few distant acquaintances of Christopher Martine, the curator in charge of releasing the drawings for ‘Anna from ICE. . Martine, who organized the event, told me that Julia Fox and Julia Garner — who played Anna in Invent Anna – were supposed to attend but were respectively “in Los Angeles and Europe”.
Although the event was billed as an art exhibition, there was no art immediately visible, and I wasn’t the only one wondering if, much like Delvey’s assertion earlier in the day she was setting up a law firm, it was all a big bang. But after a brief dance number from drag queen Yuhua Hamasaki impersonating Delvey (she walked out with the words “The thread is coming!”), I heard someone behind me say, “Excuse me.” I turned to see a model in black sheer tights pulled over her head and huge Fendi sunglasses holding a gold-framed 9×12 design to her chest, pushing her way through the crowd. Other art-bearing models followed, strutting down a runway path crowded with oblivious revelers who didn’t seem concerned about getting out of the way.
Delvey’s pencil drawings fall somewhere between fashion sketches and New Yorker cartoons, labeled in neat script with captions like “I’m the show” and “Never complain, never explain.” Martine tells me that they paid lawyers to collect the drawings, which were done in detention, and when it became too expensive, they used the prison’s email system, sending emails only on days where “people in the facility she trusted” worked. They seem meant to be a commentary on his situation over the past few years, though the takeaways aren’t always clear. In Vanilla ice cream, Delvey sketched herself surrounded by a sea of ICE detainees with the words “White Privilege Request Status: Denied” written across the bottom. another piece, The trial is the new sex tape, depicts a re-enactment of her trial, complete with her signature white dress and black choker.
After the show, the crowd was invited upstairs to a bland gallery-like space dotted with cocktail tables where Delvey’s designs were displayed on folding tables at the edges of the room. Scannable QR codes on the plates offered links to purchase a percentage of the original collection or drop $250 on a print. The only representatives of the art world I met were two social media strategists from Christie’s. Asked about Christie’s interest in Delvey’s collection, they replied, “Nothing yet.”
Eventually I ran into someone who had met Delvey, a model and casting director Livia Rose Johnson, who informed me that several people in the room were texting Anna while we were talking. Perhaps it was the group of middle-aged white men in business suits, who stood out among the designer midriff shirts and chic silk ensembles that dominated the room. One of them, who appeared to be a member of his legal team, gave a rousing speech while we waited for Anna to ‘arrive’, in which he pointed out that ‘she could become a free person no matter what. what a day she wishes” and bravely stayed in the United States instead of returning to Germany (he did not explain why). Her toast ended with several “Free Anna!” chants, which were picked up by more than a few fans in the room.
Photo: Herald PR
Finally, the guest of honor made it to the video call, easily recognizable by her Celine glasses, yellow detention suit and blurred background. In a short interview conducted by a loud blonde woman who was not featured, Delvey told the crowd about the planning of the show and the use of dull rubber instruments available in prison to create the sketches.
Delvey’s talent has always included vague artistic aspirations. Much of the money she was eventually convicted of stealing was supposed to fund a “vibrant visual arts center” she called the Anna Delvey Foundation – which, of course, didn’t happen. never materialized. Apparently, that didn’t shake his confidence or his resolve. On Thursday, she said, “My Anna Delvey Foundation will definitely be realized.” Martine spoke highly of her work, recalling that it took “maybe five times longer” than she had originally told her she had to create the collection but “the work speaks for itself” . Still, her fans seemed less interested in the art than in Anna herself. At one point during the interview, someone in the back of the room shouted, “Anna, are you under Raya?”
Between logistical gaffes and deeply bizarre fangirling, the night was much like the anarchic existence described by Anna’s old acquaintances in New York, who watched the fake German heiress bounce from hotel to hotel with scruffy hair and clothes. sloppy creators. Public knowledge that Delvey is a fraud hasn’t stopped her from drawing a crowd or throwing a giant party at a hotel full of models in designer sunglasses. Even since ICE detention, Delvey has filled a room with well-dressed people transfixed by his every move.