Why Inventing Anna’s Anna Sorokin Can’t Profit From the Show

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Shonda Rhimes cast her magic spell once more with the Netflix original Inventing Anna. The 9-part limited crime (melo)drama became an instant hit upon release last month, in February 2022. People cannot stop talking about the “fake German heiress” and following her real-life ordeal.

As Anna Sorokin’s story unfolds, interest in the fictional yet based on true events show keeps gaining traction. Everyone involved in the story has had their take on Inventing Anna and its completely fabricated bits. The real Anna’s fate, hanging in the hands of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), has also kept people following the story on her very own Instagram page, which she has been running from prison via proxy. Speculation has also been rife about how much Sorokin made from her Netflix deal.

Here’s how Inventing Anna‘s Anna Sorokin (played by Julia Garner in the show) is prevented from cashing in on the show’s success.

Inventing Anna: Truth vs. Fiction


inventing anna mug shot
Netflix

As Anna Delvey, aka Anna Sorokin, girl bosses, gaslights, and gatekeeps through life among the richest of New York’s elite in Inventing Anna, you cannot help but root for her. Her appeal to us is not unlike the cool tales of great grifters in pop culture. We cannot help but hear about how Victor Lustig sold the Eiffel Tower – twice! – and get awestruck. The show’s depiction of Garner’s Sorokin does paint an image of someone daring enough to break into the uppermost echelons of what we common plebs call “old money.” Then she made a fool of them while “trying to build something” of her own.


Love her or hate her, the show ends up making us appreciate Sorokin’s hustle a tad bit more than that of a Kardashian’s, precisely because she was neither born into fame nor wealth. The fact that we root for someone like her is indeed a bleak reflection of the world we live in.

Imagine if she had made it before she got caught. In a world of increasing wealth disparity, that would’ve been nothing short of the dream. Of course, she was not going to be some modern-day Robin Hood, but who knows how many doors she would have or could have opened for others. It’s easy to make fun of Sorokin or discard her as just a fallout, a bad symptom, of influencer and millennial hustle culture. Still, perhaps we must also consider how many avenues are open to egregiously ambitious immigrants, who come from nothing, that are entirely unsullied.


After having served the required time for her crimes, Sorokin has every plan to continue riding the wave of her ongoing popularity – she is all set to appear on the podcast Call Her Daddy this week. We may not know how far she will go with this current momentum but what we do know for sure is that much like most of the real counterparts in the show, Anna also made a pretty penny in exchange for selling her story rights to Netflix – a whopping $320,000 if sources are to be believed. However, an interesting law prevented her from actually keeping most of the money she got.

Did Anna Sorokin Profit?


inventing anna
Netflix

The Son of Sam law keeps convicted felons from profiting from their crimes’ publicity. These laws came into effect in 1977 in response to the media attention received by serial killer David Berkowitz, who also attained notoriety as the Son of Sam. Amidst rampant speculation that Berkowitz might sell his life story to publications offering him large sums of money, the New York State Legislature enacted new statutes. These became popularly known as “Son of Sam law.”


In the 1991 case of Simon & Schuster, Inc. v. Crime Victims Board, the Supreme Court struck down this law for violating the First Amendment’s right of free expression. However, the very next year, New York produced a constitutionally revised version of this law. Since then, similar laws have also been enacted in 41 states and at the federal level.

In 2019, the New York state attorney general’s office invoked the “profits of a crime” provision of the 1977 law along with the state Office of Victim Services, or OVS, who exercised their right and confiscated the money Netflix gave Sorokin. The OVS was established in 1966, and it provides compensation and other services to victims of crime. This Son of Sam laws have rarely been used, and it had not been invoked in the state of New York since at least 2001 until the Sorokin case emerged in the public purview.


Of the $320,000 Sorokin received from Netflix, she had to pay $199,000 in restitution, $24,000 in state fines, and $75,000 in attorney fees. The courts allowed her to keep the $22,000 that was left.

Chasing the Real Anna Sorokin

The show may have had nine hour-long episodes, but we ended up with as many questions (if not more) about Sorokin, and the other players in this story, as we had at the start of the show. So true crime nerds and fans of the show have been following her story beyond the narrative Rhimes presented to us. While Sorokin still claims to have plans to build her legacy, she is likely to be deported by ICE to Germany sometime soon.



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