Was Anna Delvey paid by Netflix for the rights to the Inventing Anna story?

The con artist was looking at a six-figure pay day because she ripped people off


Whenever a true crime documentary or drama comes to Netflix, it begs the question of whether or not convicted criminals are gaining financially selling their stories of how they broke the law and became well known from doing so. Anna Sorokin, or Anna Delvey, is no different – the con-woman agreed a fee to be paid by Netflix for the rights to her story in new series Inventing Anna.

In New York in 2013, Anna Sorokin took the name Delvey and told people she was a wealthy German heiress sitting on a €60million (£52million) fortune. She became friends with celebrities and the rich and famous and managed to stay at the most luxury hotels on the scene – all without actually having the money she said she did.

In 2019, Anna Sorokin was found guilty of scamming New York’s social elite out of thousands of dollars by posing as the rich heiress. Anna was convicted on multiple counts of attempted grand larceny, grand larceny and theft of services, for which she was sentenced to between four and 12 years imprisonment. She has since been released, but has found herself back in prison.

Now, Netflix has released Inventing Anna – a drama telling her story. But, not all is as it seems regarding her pay. There’s a law which has made Anna profiting from her case a bit of a sticky one. Here’s the whole deal explained.

If Anna Delvey or Sorokin was paid by Netflix for the rights to her story in Inventing Anna

via Netflix

Right, so was Anna Sorokin, or Anna Delvey, paid by Netflix for the rights to her story?

In 2019, Netflix paid Anna Delvey, real name Sorokin, $320k for the rights to her life story. Anna was initially released from prison in February 2021, and the first thing she did was settle her debts. She used $199k of the money from Netflix to pay restitution to banks and a further $24k to settle state fines. She has also agreed to pay $70k in restitution to Citibank.

However, she didn’t run off with the rest and return to a glamorous life. She won’t see any of the money. Shortly after Netflix acquired the rights to her story, The New York Attorney General’s office sued Anna Sorokin, citing the Son of Sam law. The Son of Sam law is also known as a notoriety-for-profit law or New York Executive Law Section 632a, and it stops criminals from being able to profit on the stories of their crimes. The money criminals make from their cases often comes from selling the rights to their “stories” to publishers, such as book and film deals.

If Anna Delvey or Sorokin was paid by Netflix for the rights to her story in Inventing Anna

via Netflix

The law is defined as having the aim to “prevent those accused or convicted of a crime from profiting from the commercial exploitation of their crimes by contracting for the production of books, movies, magazine articles, television shows and the like in which their crime is reenacted” or in which the “person’s thoughts, feelings, opinions or emotions” about the crime are shown.

It’s called The Son of Sam law because the first law of its type was after David Berkowitz was found to be notorious serial killer the “Son of Sam” in New York. The case drew huge media interest, and it was immediately believed that Berkowitz would sell his story to a writer or filmmaker. When Berkowitz sold exclusive rights to his story, New York state passed preemptive legal statutes and it became the first legal restriction of its kind in America.

The New York State froze Anna Delvey’s funds in 2019 to prevent her making money from the show. It’s the first time the law has been used since 2001. Her funds were only unfrozen last year so she can pay money back to her victims. She paid back $100k to City National Bank, The Wall Street Journal reported in 2020.

Inventing Anna is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook. 

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Where is Anna Delvey now? The fake heiress who inspired Inventing Anna on Netflix

Inventing Anna: The story of the real journalist who inspired Vivian Kent

• Finished The Tinder Swindler? Watch these nine Netflix shows about wild cons and fraud next

Featured image via Netflix and Richard Drew/Shutterstock