You meet no shortage of interesting people each day whilst working as the concierge for an upmarket New York hotel, so it makes perfect sense that 11 Howard concierge Neff Davis wasn’t too taken aback when she was first approached by long-term guest Anna Delvey in early 2017.
What she didn’t realise was that their first meeting would set into motion a turn of events that nobody had seen coming – least of all, it seems, Delvey herself.
She had approached the desk to ask for restaurant recommendations, which certainly wasn’t an unusual occurrence for Neff. However, there were most definitely aspects of this particular conversation that set it apart from the rest.
Firstly, Anna wasn’t expecting this advice for free, instead nonchalantly sliding a $100 bill across the desk before she had even put her question forward. Secondly, she didn’t appear to need Neff’s recommendations at all. With every suggestion of a top New York restaurant, including celebrated spots such as Carbone and Mercer Kitchen, Anna dismissively passed – eventually, she settled on a restaurant that she had thought of herself. She seemed to know plenty about New York, about its top hangouts and the big-name movers-and-shakers among the city’s elite – what she really seemed to be looking for was someone to talk to.
Keen to know a little more about this mystery guest – young and doe-eyed, with striking features, cascading red hair and a vaguely European accent – Neff set about looking for Anna in the hotel’s computer system. In her experience, the majority of guests who booked such long-term stays in the building were celebrities, with most of the area’s successful entrepreneurs and old-money socialites (Neff’s assumption being that Anna fell into one of these categories) favouring stays in Manhattan apartments over taking residence in an establishment such as 11 Howard.
Once she checked, however, there she was – Anna Delvey had reserved a $400-a-night room in the hotel for the next month. As word got around among the staff, a sense of intrigue quickly developed, with so many looking to know a little more about Delvey, who continued to hand out $100 bills like passing compliments to any staff member that threw a helping hand her way. Called her a cab? $100. Took her bags to her room? $100.
Neff even described to The New Yorker that staff members would get into heated arguments whenever a package needed to be dropped at Delvey’s door, thanks to the attractive likelihood of a crisp $100 bill being handed over afterwards.
Much to Neff’s surprise, these extravagant tips seemed to be a drop in the ocean as far as Anna’s total wealth was concerned.
As her stay went on, Anna seemed to be spending more and more time chatting with Neff at the front desk, sometimes even with a glass of high-end white wine or an evening meal in tow, staying to converse for hours at a time. Incredibly, she still gave away next-to-nothing about her past, though she was a little more forthcoming when discussing her ambitions.
She was, as she told Neff, preparing to launch a chain of elite social and art clubs, with branches proposed in LA, London, Hong Kong and Dubai, as well a flagship location in New York. Having gotten so comfortable discussing her entrepreneurial ventures with her new friend, Anna suddenly, and without ever really asking, began to treat Neff as something of a personal assistant. She found herself regularly organising business meetings for Anna, always with influential and powerful figures in the art business world and always taking place in one of the city’s most sophisticated bars or restaurants. It seemed that no expense was ever spared in Anna Delvey’s world – she spent money like it had a short expiration date.
Before long, she had started to invite Neff to spend time with her away from the hotel, inviting her for expensive meals, activities and days out shopping – and Anna was always determined to foot the bill. Neff even accompanied her to meet a personal trainer for a consultation and trial, where Anna didn’t hesitate to put down $4,500 in exchange for her first block of sessions. Neff couldn’t help but notice that, whatever the price tag, Anna never seemed reluctant to reach into her wallet – and she always paid in cash.
Anna boasted a glittering social circle, too – she knew everyone. Wherever the pair went, whether it was meeting for brunch or heading out into the city for the night, Anna seemed to be frequently approached by friends and acquaintances, all with their own luxury lifestyles and impressive credentials. It was clear that none of them knew any more about Anna than Neff did but then, why would they need to? In New York, money does all the talking – and Anna, with her purse perpetually open, was always the loudest in the room.
Besides anything else, Anna’s abundant social circle was particularly puzzling because she wasn’t a typically friendly character. Even in the early stages of their friendship, Neff and her co-workers had found Delvey to be rather rude and dismissive. It was very much a consistent aspect of her character, too – she had little patience for the majority of people.
In fact, Anna had gotten into disagreements with potential investors in her business on more than one occasion. The creative director of her proposed social club in London quickly found himself in the firing line after suggesting that calling the business ‘The Anna Delvey Foundation’ could be seen by some as a little narcissistic. Anna often cited the reason for the arguments as being that these collaborators doubted her abilities because of her young age and that she wanted to prove that she could handle the launch of a business just fine on her own.
The assumption by the majority of those who knew Anna was that ‘on her own’ didn’t quite extend to the way that she had amassed her fortune in the first place, with most friends and peers assuming that Anna simply came from a very wealthy family. Rumours stated that her father was everything from a tech CEO, to an oil tycoon, to a top antique dealer – however he had made his money, it was now clear that a large percentage of it was going towards his daughter’s own ventures and luxury lifestyle.
One of the many problems with being so astronomically wealthy, of course, is that it can be difficult to lose track of money over time. Perhaps this is the reason that friends of Anna were willing to give her the benefit of the doubt whenever she failed to pay them back for financial favours. They weren’t huge financial favours in the context of New York’s richest, of course – a $2,000 plane ticket here, an extravagant meal there – though it certainly started to raise suspicion amongst those who knew her. We can all be a little forgetful, but Anna was forgetful to the tune of thousands of dollars at a time, all straight from the pockets of those who trusted her.
The cracks truly began to show, however, once the different businesses that Anna frequented began to get suspicious. Anna always paid cash, after all, though would promise to send money by wire transfer for some expenses – transfers that were never actually made. One such transfer was to cover her $30,000 bill at 11 Howard.
Having repeatedly attempted to secure the money from Delvey, bosses at 11 Howard soon decided to give Neff the task of breaking the news to her friend that her room would be locked, with all her belongings placed in storage – still, Anna stuck to her recurring story that the issue with the delivery of the money was the fault of the bank and not her.
The issue was the bank’s fault a lot. It was the bank’s fault when Delvey was unable to pay for her opulent birthday party at Sadelle’s and when she was unable to repay a friend and business associate for the cost of a trip to Venice. It was the bank’s fault when Neff was left with the bill after a multi-course dinner in one of New York’s most extravagant restaurants and when her personal trainer felt forced to cover a multi-thousand-dollar bill for Anna’s stay at The Four Seasons, begged by a crying Anna over the phone – she even reluctantly allowed Anna to stay with her until her bank’s technical faults were solved.
Before long, however, Anna’s secrets were unravelling one by one. Her fraudulent activity was being investigated and turning up plenty of very interesting leads. She had submitted fake documents in the pursuit of over $50,000,000 worth of loans, misled a City National employee in order to secure a $100,000 line of credit, deposited $160,000 worth of bad checks, withdrawing over $70,000 before they were rejected. When she was eventually arrested, it was on six counts of grand larceny and multiple charges for the theft of services.
Delvey appeared in court but it was not a long trial by any means – the authorities had all the evidence that they needed in order to send her to jail, with her sentence set at a total of 40 months. However, she was released on parole last month.
Ironically, since her release from prison, Anna Delvey looks to be using the interest surrounding her case to create a celebrity lifestyle for herself for real. She has amassed over 125,000 Instagram followers – her bio reads ‘Reinventing Anna / Professional Defendant’.
Media giants are racing to secure the story for documentaries and dramatisations, too. Netflix has announced the release of their own film, Inventing Anna, while Golden Globe winner Emma Corrin, fresh from her critically-acclaimed performance as Princess Diana in The Crown, will reportedly take on the role of Anna in a brand new play.
Whatever happens next in the world of Anna Delvey, one thing is for sure – all eyes will be on her.
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