Did Anna Delvey Really Hang Out with Martin Shkreli and Billy McFarland?

IMAGE NETFLIX, GETTY

There’s a lot going on in the new Netflix original miniseries Inventing Anna. The show is largely based on a viral article by Jessica Pressler (played by Anna Chlumsky) about the Russian-born con artist Anna Sorokin, better known as Anna Delvey (played by Julia Garner).

Despite the well-known status of its subject matter, Inventing Anna is hard to follow. For starters, it’s too long. The miniseries is made up of nine, overstuffed, 60-minute episodes. Within those episodes are multiple sub-plots and minor characters. The show also needlessly splits its focus between Delvey’s story and Pressler’s much less interesting perspective about getting Anna Delvey’s story. On top of all that, the vexing disclaimer affixed to the opening credits of each episode—“this whole story is completely true, except for all the parts that are totally made up”—is distracting and makes keeping up that much more difficult. Every time a preposterous plot point occurs, you can’t help but wonder: Did that actually happen?

Take for instance a pair of mid-series moments that seem specifically designed to trigger a massive dopamine dump inside the minds of scam lovers. One occurs when Delvey dines with a group of high-flying acquaintances, including Martin Shkreli, aka Pharma Bro. In the scene, Shkreli boasts about acquiring an advanced copy of the much-delayed Lil Wayne album Tha Carter V. He then proceeds to play a snippet of the record for everyone, whipping the entire table into a frenzy in the process. Given Shkreli’s known interest in Wu-Tang collectibles, the encounter seems plausible enough, but did it actually happen? Evidently, yes, it did. Shkreli confirmed the details to Pressley and wrote in a letter sent from Rikers, “Even though I was nationally known, I felt like a computer geek next to her.” (Ew. Gross. Weird. Why?)

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Anyway! The other moment involves fellow millennial scammer and Ja Rule bestie, Billy McFarland. McFarland is most famous for organizing the disastrous Fyre Festival, but he also ran a start-up credit card company named Magnises. In one of Inventing Anna’s many, dizzying flashback scenes, Delvey is shown living, or at least hanging out, in a townhouse that’s also occupied by McFarland. In the scene in question, Delvey collects her belongings while a group of guys, including McFarland, clean up after a party and discuss the Fyre festival. Delvey makes fun of their plans and walks away without helping.

Two scammers under the same roof? It sounds too good to be true, and yet it isn’t. According to the New York Post, Delvey squatted in the townhouse, which was actually Magnise’s headquarters, for four months without paying rent. Supposedly she knew some members of the company's team and asked to crash for a few days. “Then she wouldn’t leave,” said someone familiar with the situation to The New York Post. “She hung out and went to the parties. She was there, just sitting there—all the time.” It took giving up their lease and moving the company’s headquarters to finally get rid of Delvey. Sadly, this portion of the true story is not in Inventing Anna.

FromEsquire US

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About The Author
Abigail Covington
Abigail Covington is a journalist and cultural critic based in Brooklyn, New York but originally from North Carolina, whose work has appeared in Slate, The Nation, Oxford American, and Pitchfork.
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