There was no art at Anna Delvey’s solo art show. At least not at first.
That wasn’t the only hint that last Thursday’s event, called “Allegedly,” would be different from a typical exhibit opening.
Upon entering, guests lined up behind a series of glass doors on the second floor of a trendy Lower East Side hotel. Many looked like budding influencers; some were real influencers; almost all of them were dressed as if they were about to attend an afterparty rather than an art exhibition. The maitre d crossed visitors’ names off the ‘list’, the bouncers scrawled X’s on their hands and everyone rushed into the crowded bar.
The space was lit like a club. It looked like one too, with a long-haired DJ blasting out some local radio rap. A drag performer dressed as the star of the night broke into a feverish dance, shouting quotes from Netflix Invent Anna. Bartenders mixed cocktails en masse, many in champagne flutes. The signature drink of the evening: Anna on ICE.
Delvey, real name Anna Sorokin, was not present, but that was to be expected. She is still being held at the Orange County Correctional Center in Goshen, New York, where she faces deportation. More curious was the absence of Anna’s drawings, recently completed at ICE Detention Center using cheap crayons, pens, and other supplies sent to her by Chris Martine, the upstart artist’s dealer and event organizer. Early examples of Sorokin’s work debuted in a group show dedicated to him in March – and Martine has promised a list of new pieces for this exhibition.
Agitated guests chatted about where the artwork might be. Several have suggested that it didn’t exist at all, that all night was excitement intended as some kind of conceptual homage to the “SoHo Scammer”.
But then the music changed – Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights” started – and the glass doors flew open. The crowd parted to form a makeshift catwalk, on which paraded models in white gloves holding framed drawings. Each wore chunky Chanel sunglasses and black stockings over their heads, as if they were about to steal the joint. The audience, several flutes deep at the time, went wild.
After the parade, the nearly two dozen designs were moved to another floor, and the guests followed.
As with the latest batch of drawings, the “allegedly” artwork finds Sorokin in a self-deprecating mood, mixing cartoon captions, fashion sketching techniques, and a sardonic sense of humor for both riff on his own personality and interpret it. One, for example, features the artist in the courtroom, a sea of cameras behind her and a caption above: “The trial is the new sex tape,” he says.
A design called Vanilla ice cream represents the artist in the middle of a crowd of women in jumpsuits. A description below reads: “White Privilege Request Status: Denied”. Another shows Anna and a host of faceless models posing on an institutional staircase in chic outfits: the “Corrections Collection,” according to an entry.
Prior to the event, Martine, who represents Sorokin through her new consulting firm called Art Club Founders, said the designs would cost between $10,000 and $15,000 each. But on Thursday night, it looks like they were only for sale as a complete set, and even as part of a split arrangement.
QR codes on signs next to the artworks directed potential buyers to a site that explained the 21-piece collection was valued at $500,000 and that the Founders Art Club was “selling up to 48% ownership in Anna Delvey’s ‘allegedly’ original collection to strategic investors. The company will always keep at least 53% of the collection. (Martine did not respond to emails asking whether or not any of the artwork sold out at the opening event.)
Meanwhile, lithographs of Sorokin’s sketches are on sale now at Founders Art Club Shop, starting at $250 a pop. Each belongs to an edition of 500.
Some time after the guests had all headed upstairs and the booze had really started to blur the lines of the evening, Martine got up to speak. “[Delvey’s] talent is flowing all over this room,” he said, before starting a “Free Anna” chant.
Then, after some technical difficulties, Anna appeared on a monitor in front of the room. Video chatting from Orange County, she wore dark glasses and a traffic cone-colored jumpsuit, which hardly suited the Corrections collection. The audio was uneven, but she thanked the night’s guests for being there and answered shouted questions from the crowd.
Before signing off, the federal inmate provided an update on her “foundation,” the social club/art space at the heart of her hundreds of thousands of dollars scam. “The Anna Delvey Foundation will definitely be realized,” she said, “but not in the same form.”
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