Heiress hoax scores fraudster celebrity treatment, and charges

Anna Sorokin, the one-time darling of the Big Apple social scene, appears in New York State Supreme Court on grand larceny charges in this October 30, 2018 photo. (AP)
Updated 27 March 2019
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Heiress hoax scores fraudster celebrity treatment, and charges

  • ‘Her overall scheme has been to claim to be a wealthy German heiress with approximately $60 million in funds being held abroad’
  • Anna Sorokin arrived in the world of champagne wishes and caviar dreams in 2016

NEW YORK: Anna Sorokin traveled in celebrity circles and tossed $100 tips — all the more reason to believe she was the German heiress she said she was. But behind the jet-set lifestyle and pricy threads, prosecutors say, was a fraudster who bilked friends, banks and hotels for a taste of the high life.
Sorokin, 28, lived in luxury New York City hotel rooms she couldn’t afford, promised a friend an all-expenses paid trip to Morocco and then stuck her with the $62,000 bill, and peddled bogus bank statements in a quest for a $22 million loan, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office alleges.
On Wednesday, the one-time darling of the Big Apple social scene is scheduled to stand trial on grand larceny and theft of services charges alleging she swindled $275,000 in a 10-month odyssey that saw her jetting to Omaha and Marrakesh before landing in a cell at Rikers Island.
“Her overall scheme has been to claim to be a wealthy German heiress with approximately $60 million in funds being held abroad,” prosecutor Catherine McCaw said after Sorokin’s October 2017 arrest. “She’s born in Russia and has not a cent to her name as far as we can determine.”
Sorokin’s lawyer, Todd Spodek, did not respond to a telephone message left Tuesday. At a hearing last month, he said that Sorokin is “presumed innocent and never intended to commit a larceny.”
Sorokin, jailed since her arrest, faces deportation to Germany regardless of the outcome of the trial because authorities say she overstayed her visa. Her story, however, may stick around. Shonda Rhimes, the force behind “Grey’s Anatomy” and Scandal,” has announced she is creating a television series about Sorokin, whose Instagram bio says: “soon on Netflix.”
Sorokin arrived in the world of champagne wishes and caviar dreams in 2016 with a new name (Anna Delvey) and a wardrobe to match (Celine sunglasses, Gucci sandals and high-end buys from Net-a-Porter and Elyze Walker). She made a show of proving she belonged, passing crisp Benjamins to Uber drivers and hotel concierges, but she gave varying accounts for the source of her wealth, according to people who knew her.
At different times, they said, she’d claim her father was a diplomat, an oil baron or a solar panel muckity-muck. In reality, her father told New York magazine, he’s a former trucker who runs a heating-and-cooling business.
At first, people around Sorokin didn’t see a red flag when she asked them to put cabs and plane fares on their credit cards — she sometimes said she had trouble moving her assets from Europe, they said — and they laughed it off as forgetfulness when they had to hound her to pay them back.
“It was a magic trick,” Rachel Williams, the friend from the Morocco trip, wrote in Vanity Fair. “I’m embarrassed to say that I was one of the props, and the audience, too. Anna’s was a beautiful dream of New York, like one of those nights that never seems to end. And then the bill arrives.”
As she ingratiated herself to the New York party scene, prosecutors said, Sorokin started talking up plans to spend tens of millions of dollars building a private arts club with exhibitions, installations and pop-up shops. She thought about calling it the Anna Delvey Foundation.
Sorokin kept up the heiress ruse as she went looking for a $22 million loan for the club in November 2016, prosecutors said. She claimed the loan would be secured by a letter of credit from UBS in Switzerland and showed statements purporting to substantiate her assets, according to an outline of the charges.
One bank rejected Sorokin because she “did not have sufficient cash flow to make loan payments,” prosecutors said. She bailed on another firm when it pressured her for a meeting with a UBS banker who could verify her assets, prosecutors said.
During the process, prosecutors said, Sorokin convinced one bank to lend her $100,000 to cover due diligence costs. She ended up keeping $55,000 and “frittered away these funds on personal expenses in about one month’s time,” prosecutors said. A few months later, in May 2017, Sorokin allegedly chartered a plane to and from the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, but never paid the $35,400 bill.
Broke and facing a big bill at a midtown Manhattan hotel in July 2017, Sorokin pleaded with a police officer that a bailout was on the way, prosecutors said.
“I have no money and no credit cards. I’m waiting for my aunt from Germany. She’s going to pay,” Sorokin said, according to court documents. “I’m not trying to run. Why are you making a big deal about this? Give me five minutes and I can get a friend to pay.”


Outlandish ‘Cats’ film trailer gives the Internet paws

Updated 20 July 2019
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Outlandish ‘Cats’ film trailer gives the Internet paws

  • Many on Twitter voiced uneasiness over the peculiar sexiness of the humanized cats
  • Cats for a time held the record for the longest-running musical on both Broadway and the West End

NEW YORK: A tribe of cats with names like Rum Tum Tugger, who sing, dance and hold an annual ball to choose who will ascend to feline heaven for reincarnation?
Yes, that’s the plot of “Cats” — and somehow the new trailer for the upcoming live action film adaptation of the famed musical looks even trippier than it sounds.
This week’s release of the teaser for the film — which stars Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, Ian McKellen, James Corden, Jason Derulo, Judi Dench and the Royal Ballet’s Francesca Hayward — had the Internet losing its mind, leaving some viewers mystified, others haunted over the unnerving mashup of the actors’ real faces and feline bodies, all cloaked with “digital fur technology.”
As Jennifer Hudson, who plays Grizabella, belts out the musical’s classic song “Memory,” the band of kitties who call themselves the Jellicles twirl through a remarkably large home decked out in opulent shades of burgundy and olive, with bizarrely enormous chandeliers and furniture on which the cats romp.
Many on Twitter voiced uneasiness over the peculiar sexiness of the humanized cats, particularly the breast-like furry mounds on some of their chests, with some wearing jewels and extra fur coats.

“My brain has melted. My eyes are bleeding. There is no god,” said one Twitter user, @KristyPuchko.
“the CATS trailer is proof of a conspiracy theory i’ve long believed — that rich people have different, much better drugs,” tweeted another, @BrandyLJensen.
Swift plays Bombalurina — the flirty cat, who is sometimes, well, catty — while Dench plays Old Deuteronomy, the boss cat who chooses which feline gets a ticket to the “Heavenside Layer” to be reborn.
The sung-through musical “Cats” — composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and based on T.S. Eliot’s poetry collection “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” — premiered at London’s West End in 1981, becoming a decorated global phenomenon and grossing $2 billion worldwide by 1994.
For a time, it held the record for the longest-running musical on both Broadway and the West End, and has been translated into 15 languages.
The Universal Pictures feature film directed by Tom Hooper, who did 2012’s “Les Miserables,” is set to premiere December 20, 2019.
But some say their lives already are forever changed only after seeing the fantasy musical’s trailer.
Others acted unmoved.
“I don’t know why you’re all freaking out over miniature yet huge cats with human celebrity faces and sexy breasts performing a demented dream ballet for kids,” tweeted @louisvirtel.