The Manhattan building of Anna Delvey’s dreams, the six-story property at Park Avenue and East 22nd Street where the notorious con man planned to house his unrealized art foundation, is up for sale for $135 million.
The property, which is leased to Swedish photography museum Fotografiska, is currently owned by property developer and mega-collector Aby Rosen. He bought it through his company RFR Holding in 2014 for $50 million. It is listed with Official, a new real estate company founded last month by brothers Tal and Oren Alexander.
The current listing price is a huge markup, but the building, which has an ornate facade of granite and Indiana limestone, has since undergone a $30 million interior and exterior renovation from Cetra Ruddy Architecture. and Roman and Williams.
He also has new infamy thanks to the series produced by Netflix’s Shonda Rimes Invent Anna, which recounts the misdeeds of Sorokin. (Julia Garner plays the title role.)
Built in 1894 by architects Edward J. Neville Stent and Robert W. Gibson, 281 Park Avenue South was originally the headquarters of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church and was called Church Missions House. It was part of what was known as Charity Row, for the glut of charitable institutions located in the surrounding blocks.
More than a century later, the building has caught the eye of Sorokin, a Russian immigrant who dreams of making a name for herself in the New York art world. Posing as a German heiress poised to inherit a huge trust fund on her 25th birthday, Sorokin sought $29 million in loans to fund her foundation, which would have made 281 Park Avenue its headquarters.
“She tasted really, really good,” said Nicole Oge, founding partner of Official. New York from Curbed magazine. “I can tell you there’s nothing like it: the detail, the character, the feel, the lighting.”
But Sorokin maintained his lavish lifestyle by charging expensive hotel bills and depositing fake checks to fraudulently withdraw tens of thousands of dollars from banks.
In the end, Sorokin swindled his victims out of $275,000, including leaving his friend Rachel Williams, then a vanity lounge photo editor, with a $60,000 tab for a luxury vacation in Morocco. (Other victims include Chinese collector Michael Xufu Huang, who was tricked into paying for Sorokin’s hotel room during the 2015 Venice Biennale.)
As the bogus heiress scheme unraveled — she was arrested in late 2017 — Sorokin also lost her chance at the Park Avenue property. In Invent Annawhen Sorokin learns of the Fotografiska affair when her friends confront her at a brunch, she dismisses the story as “fake news!”
RFR signed a 15-year lease on the building with Fotografiska in 2017. (The property was originally advertised at $125 per square foot, but the museum is likely paying closer to $100.)
In addition to galleries for rotating photography exhibitions, the institution, which opened in 2019, has a restaurant, Veronika, and Chapel Bar, a private club popular with art world elites. (Fotografiska co-founder Jan Broman said Forbes he spotted the building from a taxi window, then inquired about renting the space.)
Sorokin’s plans for the foundation, which she detailed in an 80-page pitch deck for investors, included exhibits with artists such as Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Urs Fischer and Jeff Koons. Supposedly, Christo was going to wrap up the building as part of the opening festivities, and Daniel Arsham would be hosting a series of pop-up shops.
There would also be an artist residency program, three restaurants, a juice bar, a nightclub, and a bakery specializing in German treats such as strudel and laugen pretzels. Council members would include Rosen himself, as well as architects Santiago and Gabriel Calatrava, Purple magazine founder Oliver Zahm and Alban de Pury, son of auctioneer Simon de Pury.
Whoever buys the building, which is inspired by medieval Dutch architecture, will only become its fourth owner. Before Rosen, he belonged to the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, which paid him just $910,000 in 1963.
The building has had landmark status with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission since 1979 and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982.
Sorokin was convicted of grand larceny and theft in 2019, but earned $320,000 selling her lifetime rights to Netflix. (Most of the money went to pay off his victims.)
In 2021, Sorokin was released from prison, but was quickly picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She fought against her deportation to Germany and is currently in an ICE detention center.
While incarcerated, Sorokin began creating his own art. In March, she had her first exhibition at a gallery on the Lower East Side. A solo exhibition where the models showed off the art as if they were walking the runway followed during Frieze New York. Sorokin claims to have made $150,000 from print sales of his drawings. His most recent effort is an NFT project.
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