Inventing Anna: Was Anna Delvey Paid For the Netflix Show?

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Fake German heiress Anna Sorokin is led away after being sentenced in Manhattan Supreme Court May 9, 2019  following her conviction last month on multiple counts of grand larceny and theft of services. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)        (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

Years after the shocking story of the “SoHo Grifter” made headlines, the story of Anna Delvey is making its way to Netflix with the upcoming series “Inventing Anna.” As the real Delvey — aka Anna Sorokin — continues her legal case, we couldn’t help wondering if she got paid by Netflix for her story.

According to Insider, Sorokin did get a paycheck from Netflix in exchange for the rights to her story — a cool $320,000, no less. Reportedly, she’s been using that money to pay restitution to the banks and others she defrauded during her spree. Financial records reviewed by Insider apparently show her paying $199,000 of that Netflix money toward restitution to banks (including $70,000 she still owed to Citibank) and another $24,000 to settle state fines. She’s also looking at $75,000 in legal fees and counting, as her case winds toward its conclusion, as well as smaller amounts toward other victims.

The complexities of life-story rights — that is, the rights to portray the lives of real people, especially people who have lived relatively recently as opposed to centuries ago — are a particularly knotty area of entertainment law. According to “The Hollywood Reporter,” “The only causes of action a celebrity or public figure has against the use of his/her name, likeness or life story in non-commercial speech is for false light or libel.” In other words, it’s hard for a person deemed a public figure (which is another whole legal checklist) to sue, even over an “unauthorized” story, unless it’s blatantly, deliberately damaging or false. However, having the rights to a life story can give a production company advantages, such as exclusive access to information or resources, as well as a veneer of authenticity in the court of public opinion.

It’s not just Netflix and other producers who are bound by this life-story deal; Sorokin is too. As the BBC explained, such a contract limits Sorokin from telling her story elsewhere. She can’t participate in other documentaries, tell her story on a talk show, write a book, or tell her story in any other forms outside the scope of the TV series for years after its debut. It’s just one more step in a saga where public attention and money have been at the center of it all.





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