Anna Delvey debuts sketches made in ICE detention at New York City art show: ‘I am the show’

·4 min read
 (Meredith Clark)
(Meredith Clark)

Anna Delvey seems to think it’s her world and we’re all just living in it.

Anna Delvey, the subject of the Netflix series Inventing Anna, made her return to the New York City art scene on Thursday 19 May with her first solo art exhibition, “Allegedly”.

The one-night-only event took place at the Public Hotel on Chrystie Street, probably more commonly recognised for its Instagrammable neon elevator and rooftop bar. As The Independent entered the hotel’s Bar Chrystie for the invite-only event, which was pumping with music and free-flowing champagne, it was hard to distinguish who was an influencer and who was just there for the art.

Despite the exclusivity, the art show still managed to rack up an estimated 200 attendees. But what made the night so surreal was its ability to make you feel as though you were an extra in Inventing Anna, the show that made this German-born “heiress” an overnight sensation. As any person who feels out of place will do, you flock to birds of the same feather, which meant that many members of press at the event began the night thinking the same thing: “Where’s the art?”

Delvey – born Anna Sorokin – is currently being held in an ICE detention center in Orange County, New York. Her second art show, titled “Allegedly”, featured a collection of 20 pieces created by Sorokin herself over the last two months. The first art show, “Free Anna”, was co-created with Alfredo Martinez back in March, an artist who was previously sent to prison for selling fake Basquiats.

To create the 20 drawings, Sorokin was commissioned by the Founders Art Club, an art advisory group that now represents the socialite. The firm managed to supply Sorokin with coloured pencils and watercolour paper, while the artist’s legal team expertly smuggled the finished pieces out of jail.

The Founders Art Club has actually purchased all the works from the artist, but interested buyers can purchase 48 per cent ownership of the collection. The art group hopes to sell the entire collection, which ranges from $400 to $500k, at Christie’s or Sotheby’s auction.

Model walked through the event space showing off Anna Delvey’s art work (Meredith Clark)
Model walked through the event space showing off Anna Delvey’s art work (Meredith Clark)

About one hour into the event, after a performance from an Anna Delvey drag queen, the actual Sorokin made an appearance via phone call from the ICE detention center, where she remains in custody for overstaying her visa.

After introducing herself, and expressing her excitement over the debut of her first-ever art collection, Sorokin informed the assembled guests that she’d wanted to “capture some of the moments of the past years, both never seen before and iconic, using the limited tools I had at my disposal” through the sketches.

‘Quarantining’ (Meredith Clark)
‘Quarantining’ (Meredith Clark)

“Some of the pieces are straightforward, others are more abstract,” she continued. “I studied fashion illustration in Paris and haven’t really sketched until my trial. 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.”

‘I am the show’ (Meredith Clark)
‘I am the show’ (Meredith Clark)

And everyone did. A handful of tall models dressed in gauzy ski masks and black sunglasses cat-walked through the crowded event space, holding in their hands the framed art pieces that were allegedly smuggled out of ICE.

One sketch featured an Anna-esque figure dressed in a gown, standing on the edge of an oceanview balcony. The words, written in a newspaper-esque typography, read: “Retired Intern.”

Another drawing, titled “Quarantining,” showed Sorokin sitting in a cinder block cell with a stack of Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Elle magazines collecting in the corner of the room. The imagined-Sorokin is seen scrolling through her “GTL Messages,” a messaging service designed for inmate calling. Listed on her recent calls was Julia Fox.

‘You’re not who you pretend to be either’ (Meredith Clark)
‘You’re not who you pretend to be either’ (Meredith Clark)

The art show also included a piece titled, “I am the show,” as well as a sketch completed with the sentiment: “You’re not who you pretend to be either.”

‘Postcards from the Edge’ (Meredith Clark)
‘Postcards from the Edge’ (Meredith Clark)

As the crowd made its way upstairs for the final reveal – which was a collaged front page news article titled: “The Delvey Crimes” – Sorokin’s lawyer, Duncan Levin, spoke on the microphone.

“I want everybody to understand the brave choice that she’s making today by sitting in a ICE detention facility,” he said. “She could become a free person any day that she wishes but instead she’s choosing to fight her deportation. She’s choosing to fight her underlying criminal conviction and she’s choosing to appeal for conviction.”

His final words…Free Anna.