Is Anna “Delvey” Sorokin an artist, and could that help keep her in America? The con man turned socialite is the subject and star of a Lower East Side art exhibit opening tomorrow, March 17, “Free Anna Delvey!”
The exhibition – at 176 Delancey Street on the Lower East Side, until the 24th – opens as Sorokin, star of the hugely popular Netflix series Invent Annaremains (at the time of writing) in detention and fighting deportation to Germany.
The exhibit features works by more than two dozen artists, much of it tied to Sorokin’s tabloid history, and 25% of sales are committed to his legal fees, says co-curator Alfredo Martinez. The event also includes, he says, an artwork by Anna Delvey, “Send Bitcoin.” It’s an enlarged, colorized image of one of his designs and it’s in collaboration with Martinez, he says. Him, it’s not by chance, served federal time two decades ago for rigging Jean-Michel Basquiats on loan from Sotheby’s.
“I work as his assistant,” says Martinez, who notes that such laborers and studio arrangements are common in the art world (from Rembrandt to Jeff Koons).
The art exhibit was first leaked on social media app Clubhouse. Painter and White hot Magazine founder and publisher Noah Becker, whose works will also appear in the exhibition, runs a lively Friday Art Gossip room with young Miami conceptual artist John Barrymore.
Becker, founder of White hot and her podcast, says he spoke to Sorokin from the Orange County Jail about the art exhibit and she was looking forward to it – “She wants to make sure that everything she does is legal.” She wants to “take her narrative away from her past behavior.”
Indeed, the art exhibit might serve a deeper purpose for Delvey. US immigration has an exempt category for “creatives,” a so-called O-1 visa, and Delvey might hope as an artist that it meets its very specific criteria. The O-1 visa” is for the person who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has demonstrated extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and who has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements,” according to the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service.
Sorokin does indeed seem to identify as an artist, noting in a recent prison podcast interview with White hot, that people say “I was like Warhol, in costume.” However, she does not have a completely classical training, she admits. Prior to incarceration, “I wasn’t necessarily an artist but I took fashion illustration classes,” Sorokin said. But in prison, she says, art has become a comfort and a constant.
Sorokin was accused in 2018 of robbing New York’s high society, bankers, luxury hotels and restaurants by posing as a German heiress. She was convicted of robbery in 2019 and sentenced to four years in prison. She was released in 2021 for good behavior and was due to be deported to Germany earlier this week, but missed the plane, according to her immigration lawyer.
Sorokin’s criminal attorney, Manny Arora, did not return calls seeking comment. His office referred us to his business attorney, Ira Meyerowitz, who did not accept phone messages or respond to emails seeking comment. We were told to contact various other attorneys and officials involved, but they were only identified by first names, such as “Blake” or “Gregori.”
Indeed, many people surrounding Delvey only identify with first names and are somewhat difficult to trace. Many hang around her “to make money,” says Julia Morrison, co-curator of the show “Free Anna Delvey.” “They want to do an NFT [digital artwork] of his fucking toothbrush.
The Orange County Correctional Facility in Goshen, New York, refused to pass messages to inmates, saying only lawyers’ messages would be passed on. Their website says she was released from there, but not necessarily from state custody.
The opening of the exhibition is by invitation only, but it attracted less of the good crowd. A top New York art collector – shortly after enjoying a private viewing of upcoming Sotheby’s auctions this week – has confirmed he will be dropping by. He’s a fan of Sorokin, or his ambition, he says, but he hasn’t quite got his wallet out yet. “The drawing is not signed,” he notes, skeptical.