The Magician of Manhattan

by Edward Anderson about a year ago in guilty

Anna Delvey's story is a rags to orange jumpsuits tale for the ages.

The Magician of Manhattan

“Money, like, there’s an unlimited amount of capital in the world, you know?” Anna Delvey said to The Cut when they interviewed her. On the surface, it sounds like the musings of an uneducated girl who has been given the world by a doting father. That assessment could not be more wrong, yes Delvey's father loved her and did everything he could to help support her financially, but he was appalled when he learned of her crimes. He wondered how she had gotten away with it for so long. The answer to that question is one that can be answered easily. She believed her own lie. However, there was a rhythm to her madness that has been missed by many people.

Friends in Low Places

Garth Brooks crooned about knowing the little people and how they would carry him when he fell after breaking up with his lover. This is a technique that Anna Delvey employed brilliantly. Her own blue-collar background came into play with this aspect of her scheme. While she used a diva personality, Delvey would hand out hundred dollar bills the same way Costco hands out samples.

While staying at chic Soho hotel, 11 Howard, Delvey befriended one of the concierges. It started as a simple request for recommendations of restaurants in the area. Neffarati Davis, the concierge that Delvey spoke with the most, recounted the first time she met the glamorous guest. Delvey had asked for the "best food in Soho" and then promised that she would see Davis around. Curious Davis, checked out the reservation for Delvey and realized that she would be staying at the hotel for at least a month. After the conversation, Delvey passed the first of many $100 tips to her new friend.

But it wasn't just Davis that was getting the huge tips. Almost every member of the staff would receive generous sums of money, as long as they paid attention to the diva. Delvey was a walking testament to the belief that money can buy happiness, especially when happiness is gourmet meals and extravagant trips around the world.

Over time, Delvey would start to ask Davis to join her for dinners. Almost every time they went out, Delvey would pick up the tab. It was a life that most Manhattanites dream of but never get to experience because rent and other bills eat up their wages. A true friendship began to bud between the diva and the concierge.

At one of the dinners, Davis was seated next to Macaulay Culkin. After fan-girling out, she tried to regain her composure and not embarrass Delvey. It occurred to her that without this friendship, she would never have been able to meet, and talk to, her childhood crush. It was the pinnacle of the association, only Davis didn't know that at the time.

Only Girl in the World

One of the best talents Delvey had, was that she could make whoever her companion was for the evening feel as though they were the only person who mattered. Davis was going to dinners and parties that she would never have been invited to if not for her connection to Delvey and they were as thick as thieves.

Rachel Deloache Williams felt the same way about Delvey. They met through friends over cocktails one night. In a grand gesture, Delvey picked up the tab for everyone. After another night out with friends, Delvey and Williams began texting, eventually hanging out alone. Williams, a photo editor for Vanity Fair, recalled how she got swept up in the glamour of life being friends with an alleged wealthy heiress. There were dinners, and then Delvey invited her to join in on sessions with her physical trainer. The opulence was tempting, especially for someone who makes just over $61,000 a year.

Both Williams and Davis said that when they were with Delvey, they were transported to a world where they were the only people who mattered. Delvey would make sure they had a good time and would become very upset if they pulled out their credit cards to pay. She reminded them time and again that she had the means to support the lifestyle. Neither woman thought much of it until they did.


The con in con artist is short for confidence. The way a scammer becomes successful in getting the money is by extolling confidence and building trust in their mark. Delvey did this with Williams and Davis in a nearly brilliant way. Both women confessed that they were flattered when Delvey would pick up tabs, and appreciative of the gifts when handed out. There was no reason for them to doubt that this woman had plenty of money coming in. That is until the web of deceit that had been weaved began to unravel.

Davis realized something wasn't right, when after dinner one night, Delvey's credit card was declined. Neither thought much of it, and Delvey handed the waiter a document with 12 other credit cards for him to try. All declined ... With a rock in the pit of her stomach, Davis moved money from her savings to her checking to cover the bill. In her mind, she believed that it was her turn to pay. And she reasoned it was a fraction of what was typically spent on dinners. Still, the nearly $300 check was a lot for her. Delvey promised to pay her back.

It was a promise that Delvey made to Williams as well, though the amount was much higher. The con had invited the photo editor to join her on vacation, allegedly she needed to leave the states to reset her visa. When Williams hedged, Delvey offered to pay for the hotel and her flight. It was a deal too good to be true ... because it was.

Marrakech was the destination that Delvey had chosen. It was a little pricey for Williams, but since her friend was going to spring for most of the trip, she agreed. When they arrived, limos were waiting to get them to the hotel. It was a scene from a Jackie Collins novel. Everything seemed to be perfect.

One of their fellow travelers, a trainer, got sick and needed to leave. What should have been routine, turned into a situation for the group of gals (a documentarian was also with them). Two burly men came to the room and began talking to Delvey, there was no credit card on file, and this was not acceptable. After they got the trainer to the airport, Delvey and Williams went shopping. There was a pair of shirts that they liked, Delvey handed over her credit card. It was declined. Williams reluctantly paid, but with the promise that Delvey would find out what was wrong with her card.

They returned to the hotel, and the manager asked to speak with Delvey. He demanded that she hand over a credit card or they would be forced out of the hotel. She acquiesced, but the card was declined. After a promise of having the money wired over didn't pass muster, Williams once again handed over her American Express, with reluctance. She got a call asking about the charge, an amount that totaled more than she made in an entire year, she told them it was her. Delvey swore that she would pay her friend back.

Despite the assurances that the money was coming, Williams only received $5,000 of the promised $62,000. She tired of the excuses and soon began to piece together the truth about what happened. Soon she would learn that it wasn't just the workers and "little people" that Delvey was scamming.

Anna Delvey lost confidence, and her whole scam began to unfurl in record time. New York is a helluva town, it is also unforgiving. Ask Delvey, who now resides in Riker's Prison.

Edward Anderson
Edward Anderson
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