- Anna Delvey – the fake heiress whose real name is Anna Sorokin – was convicted on eight counts as part of her “SoHo grifter” scheme and sentenced to prison in May.
- “My Friend Anna,” a new book by Delvey’s former friend, Vanity Fair photo editor Rachel DeLoache Williams, explains how the fake heiress was finally captured.
- After realizing she was the victim of a scammer, Williams went to authorities and helped coordinate a sting operation that led to Delvey’s arrest in Los Angeles.
- The book also has other revelations, like details about Delvey’s friendship with Martin Shkreli and a behind-the-scenes look at how Vanity Fair changed once legendary-editor-in-chief Graydon Carter stepped down.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Ever since Anna Delvey was sentenced to prison in May, there’s still been one major episode of her story that has remained a mystery.
How, exactly, was she captured?
The fake heiress – whose real named is Anna Sorokin – used her fake fortune to con banks, hotels, and restaurants in New York. But when she was arrested on October 3, 2017, she was in Los Angeles, leaving New York authorities in a rut.
Rachel DeLoache Williams has the answers, according to her new book. The former Vanity Fair photo editor was close with Delvey until catching on to her scam. In “My Friend Anna,” she talks about working with police officers to arrest Delvey in a sting operation at Joan’s on 3rd, a hip eatery in Los Angeles.
The incident briefly came up in Delvey’s trial, when her attorney, Todd Spodek, blasted Williams on the witness stand for betraying her trust by being instrumental in her arrest. But it’s never been clear exactly why Delvey was in Los Angeles at the time and how the arrest went down.
Delvey was ultimately convicted on eight of the 10 counts New York prosecutors brought against her. She was cleared, though, on the count of alleged larceny against Williams, who paid the $62,000 bill for a group trip to Morocco that Delvey promised to pay back.
- Jacob Shamsian/INSIDER
After weeks of pleading with Delvey to pay her back, and getting Kafkaesque excuses in return, Williams ultimately came to believe that Delvey was a scammer, and she was a victim. She says she sought legal advice to figure out what she could do.
At first, she says she was rebuffed. A lawyer she spoke to allegedly cut her off in the middle of her story and asked if she wanted to “pay for my son’s medical school, too.” A police officer told her that “with your face” she could “start a GoFundMe page to get your money back,” Williams wrote.
Williams says she worked with law enforcement to capture Delvey
Eventually, Williams writes that she met with Catherine McCaw, a Manhattan assistant district attorney who later led the case against Delvey. At that point, Delvey was under investigation for financial crimes, and Williams was able to join the case as one of her victims.
Even though Williams kept chasing down Delvey for money, Delvey still hadn’t given up on her as a potential friend.
“In my mind, Anna had become a disembodied force, more of a specter than human,” Williams wrote. “If we were in a horror movie, she was the evil spirit who kept knocking on the door.”
Detective Michael McCaffrey, who was working with the Manhattan district attorney’s office to investigate Delvey, used the friendship between Williams and Delvey to his advantage.
Delvey had skipped town and appeared to be somewhere in California, but he wasn’t sure precisely where. Fortunately, Williams was headed to Los Angeles: Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit was coming up and she was to assist in Annie Liebowitz’s photoshoot with celebrities like Larry David, John Kerry, Anjelica Huston, and Shonda Rhimes.
Williams texted Delvey and told her she’d be in town. Delvey said she was in Passages, the celebrity rehab center in Malibu, for alcohol addiction.
The two agreed to meet up at Joan’s on 3rd in Los Angeles for lunch, with Delvey asking Williams to bring her some alcohol. It’s not clear if Delvey actually entered the rehabilitation facility, which wasn’t listed by prosecutors as one of the institutions she failed to pay back.
Williams had no intention of showing up to the appointment. She informed McCaffrey about the date and sent him additional photos from their Morocco trip so that police officers in Los Angeles would be able to easily identify her.
Delvey was captured and flown back to New York. Her trial, in New York’s Supreme Court, was a short walk away from the nightclubs she and Williams once frequented, the infrared saunas where they sat and listen to music, and SoHo hotels Delvey had once scammed.
“My Friend Anna” has other high profile revelations about the case
William’s book is a detailed retelling of her experience, building far beyond the initial account she published in Vanity Fair in April 2018.
Her friendship with Delvey ran through the 2016 presidential election. William’s father, Joshua Williams, was also running for Congress at the time. He was a Democrat in a district that had gone to Republicans since 1855. He ultimately lost his primary to Renee Hoyos, who lost the general election.
And while Williams said Delvey wasn’t particularly interested in politics, she did love one of President Donald Trump’s pet phrases: “Fake news.” She used it often to reject news that she didn’t like, Williams said.
- Jacob Shamsian/INSIDER
Williams also describes the changes roiling Vanity Fair at the time. After Graydon Carter left the magazine in September 2017, Williams stayed on. Her boss and ally through the Delvey affair, Kathryn MacLeod, also left the company, though still helped the magazine as a consultant.
Two days before the sting operation, S.I. Newhouse, who presided over Condé Nast, died. Williams described the company at the time as an “empire in transition.”
She was ultimately laid off in February of this year. But by then, she had gotten an agent following her magazine story about her experience. In addition to working on “My Friend Anna,” on top of her photography, she has an HBO project in the works about the Delvey story. Williams testified during the trial that she stands to make up to $600,000 between her HBO and book deals.
The HBO project, to be produced with Lena Dunham, runs parallel to a Netflix project, which will be produced by Shonda Rhimes and is based on an investigative article in New York magazine by Jessica Pressler. Netflix, Williams noted, bought Delvey’s life rights, as INSIDER originally reported.
Williams also said that Spodek, Delvey’s attorney, signed on to be an executive producer for the project. Netflix didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about Spodek’s involvement.
Delvey is currently serving her sentence, up to 12 years, in the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women in Westchester County, New York.
Williams wrote that she was “crushed” when she learned Delvey was found innocent of the larceny charge against her, but believed it was because the jury “split the baby” to convince a lone juror holdout that she was at least guilty on the other counts.
- REUTERS/Amr Alfiky
Also in the book, Williams portrayed Delvey as potentially having a vengeful streak.
Delvey befriended Martin Shkreli, the former pharmaceutical company executive most famous for raising the prices of life-saving drugs, and eventually being convicted of securities fraud. Delvey picked up a maneuver from Shrekli’s playbook when she bought web domains associated with the names of hotel managers who kicked her out for not paying her bills, Williams said.
Williams said Delvey defended Shkreli’s behavior. According to Williams, Delvey argued that Shkreli’s pricing scheme was totally legal and “cost insurance companies, not individual people.”
“To me, Anna’s logic demonstrated that she was able to willfully separate business transactions from their moral and ethical consequences,” Williams wrote. “She left me no room to argue.”
- Read more:
- 2 years ago, 26-year-old Anna Delvey was on a $62,000 vacation in Morocco. Now she’s facing 15 years in prison for her elaborate ‘fake heiress’ scam.
- ‘You’re starting to sound like a fraud’: A former Vanity Fair editor who says she was scammed by Anna Delvey testified against the fake heiress
- Fake heiress Anna Delvey said ‘I’m not sorry’ in a wild jailhouse interview, and has apparently been getting into fights on Rikers Island
- Prosecutors say alleged socialite scammer Anna Delvey pretended to be an influencer and went on a lavish Morocco trip ‘fit for a Kardashian’