“I’m a masterpiece! I’m a masterpiece! Look at me, I am Anna,” shouted drag queen Yuhua Hamasaki as she riled up the crowd in full Anna Delvey garb at the imprisoned fake heiress’ one-night-only solo art exhibit. Hamasaki’s over-the-top impression of the subject of Shonda Rhimes’ Netflix limited series “Inventing Anna” was just the start of a surreal experience put on by the Founders Art Club and Delvey’s art dealer, Christopher Martine, at New York City’s Public Hotel on Thursday night.
Titled “Allegedly,” the collection featured 20 pieces of art that were drawn by Delvey, legal name Anna Sorokin, herself from Orange County Correctional Facility in New York. Before the work was actually shown, guests at the exclusive event were treated to cocktails, like the “Anna on ICE,” and a recorded message from Delvey played by the DJ. (Of course, Delvey herself could not be there, for obvious reasons.)
“This is a collect call from ‘Anna,’ an inmate in the Orange County Jail,” a recording said, with Delvey subbing in her name when prompted. “To accept this call, press zero, to refuse this call, hang up or press one. Your call was not accepted. Please try again later.”
“What!” the crowd shouted, before Delvey’s voice came through loud and clear: “Hi everyone, Anna Delvey, here. I hope you guys are enjoying your evening so far. I’m so very excited to unveil my first-ever art collection, titled ‘Allegedly.’ This is a collection of sketches I’ve created while in Orange County Detention. I wanted to capture some of the moments of the past years, both never-seen-before and iconic, using the limited tools I have at my disposal. Some of the pieces are straightforward, others are more abstract and will be unique in meaning and appearance to the observer. I studied fashion illustration in Paris and haven’t really sketched until my trial.”
Delvey concluded: “You’ve heard so many voices already, but this is the beginning of me telling my story, my narrative from my perspective. I hope you guys enjoy the show.”
A Russian-born German woman, Delvey scammed her way into the top branches of New York business and society by pretending to have a $60 million fortune. She succeeded in living the high life on private yachts and jets, while doing some creative accounting to get the funding to launch the “Anna Delvey Foundation” art collective — which she nearly succeeded in doing. She was convicted in May 2019 on eight counts, including grand larceny, attempted grand larceny and theft of services.
Delvey was sentenced to four to 12 years in prison, fined $24,000 and ordered to pay nearly $200,000 in restitution. She ultimately served just under four years and was released on good behavior in February 2021, before being detained again, this time landing in ICE detention for overstaying her visa. In February, she wrote an essay for Insiders reflecting on her time in prison and sharing her take on Netflix’s Julia Garner-led “Inventing Anna.”
The work at Delvey’s “Allegedly” show, created mostly from the pens and pencils available to her in ICE detention, was brought out and displayed by models wearing sheer black stocking-like hoods, large black sunglasses, little black dresses, black boots and white gloves. The 20 gold-framed pieces were handled with the utmost care by the models, despite a consistent lack of space due to press swarming almost every inch of the party.
Once the art had made the rounds, the attendees were instructed to move to another location in the hotel where it would all be on full display. It was during this re-located portion that Delvey made a live-streamed appearance from Orange County Detention to wave at the crowd in her orange jumpsuit and smile at the large number of press that had turned out to her event. “It’s so awesome having everybody!” Delvey said with a grin.
Delvey’s collection is valued in the $400-500k range, per her art dealer Martine.
“Copies of the art, lithographs are going to be for sale and sold in lots of 50 at a time, starting at $250 each,” a representative from Delvey’s team told Variety Thursday. “And then after 250 are sold, they start going up in price. If you want to own the collection, you can only own up to 48% of the collection. 53% of the collection will always be owned by the Founders Art Club. So you can buy limited prints, but not the original artwork.”
Collectors from New York galleries like Swann Galleries and Contra Galleries were among those in attendance Thursday, with several collectors interested in purchasing what Delvey had to say in her drawings.
“Well I’m still learning about it, to be honest,” attendee Christina Wineman, a friend of Martine’s, said. “But I think the fact she was so limited her supplies and her artwork is an extension of her story, her backstory and gives the viewers an insight into her.”
Hamasaki, who was hired to put on “little skits” in character as Delvey during the party, is also interested in picking up a Delvey original: “If I can afford them, of course. I’ll be putting it on my Metro card. Yeah, and don’t you worry, the wiring of the money is coming ASAP.”