Anna Delvey and the cultural fascination with impostors

Anna Delvey poses on her balcony from house arrest wearing her ankle monitors.

Anna Delvey poses on her balcony from house arrest wearing her ankle monitors.
photo: diversity (Getty Images)

Over the weekend, prolific con artist and fake hotel heiress Anna Delvey celebrated her birthday just like someone like her would: with an exclusive “Happy Freaking Birthday” themed invitation-only party where guests had to sign non-disclosure agreements and, ah, yeah, provide their social security number. I would expect nothing less than hundreds of thousands from a girl convicted in 2019 of attempted grand larceny and theft of services – mainly from banks, hotels, restaurants and over-trusting rich people.

Reactions at Delvey’s party ranged from cynicism (“If you handed over willingly Your social security number to Anna Delvey to come to a party, you deserve whatever happens next,” one person tweeted) to grudging respect (“We are witness the revival by Anna Delvey I’m afraid,” wrote another). But between the stir her birthday party made this week and last Notice that she’ll soon be hosting an unplanned dinner party talk show series from house arrest, there’s clearly something about Delvey that resonates with a lot of people can’t seem to get enough.

Since Netflix invent Annabased on Delvey’s well-documented scams that exploited the ultra-rich, the 32-year-old has garnered something of a cult following. Last year, at the peak of the Netflix series’ popularity, Delvey admitted she would received offers from numerous fans to marry or adopt her. (That is pprobably because Delvey faced threats of deportation at various points; After serving three years in prison between 2018 and 2021, it was her in ICE facilities for over a year until October as she overstayed her visa while in prison.) That a talk show hosted by Delvey even got the green light, and that there’s exclusive PageSix coverage of her SSN-required birthday party, proves that there’s certainly an ongoing appetite for a ~character~ like Delvey in our culture, inevitably fueled by constant media coverage is nourished ( pardon me!) from her every post-prison joke.

Delvey’s popularity is understandable, but only in that many of her victims are unsympathetic; Stealing from the rich is pretty popular right now for obvious reasons. But Delvey clearly didn’t steal to redistribute wealth or advance anything other than her own brand. Its popularity is rooted less in a backlash to capitalism’s dire crisis than it is rooted in the enduring, albeit complicated, neoliberal Love affair with the “girl boss”.

Arguably the most “cancelled” female scammer in the world, Delvey continues to capitalize on that identity. That — getting canceled and exposed for wrongdoing and then Use of notoriety and self-deprecation for even more occasions— has been the crux of the “canceled” man’s playbook for years. Delvey has successfully capitalized on this strategy, and there’s inevitably something charming and empowering about it for people who see feminism simply as a reversal of gender roles…rather than a dismantling of the patriarchal, capitalist repression in a broader sense.

Photos of women protesters in front of the courthouse while Theranos founded and convicted fraudster Elizabeth Holmes stood trial for their various economic crimes, their signs and t-shirts Unironically, he calls Holmes a “girl boss”. Many pointed out that men who commit fraud like Holmes will never spend a day in prison. But Holmes deserves neither reverence nor much sympathy – her lies threatened the health and safety of countless people. THen of course there are they Remarks about how “pretty people like me” don’t go to jail, while jails are disproportionately populated by low-income blacks and browns. Not good!

All this is to say, however obvious it may be, that women “reclaim” Patriarchal Abuses is not natural feminist or celebratory. Delvey’s story is harrowing and compelling, and the audacity with which she continues to deceive and scheme is truly a spectacle; bBut the existence of her fan base and the constant opportunities she is given to continue to enrich herself and build her brand doesn’t really undermine anything and help anyone but her. In the end, lots “girl bosses”, are also crooks in practice. Anna Delvey and the cultural fascination with impostors

Adam Bradshaw

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