Netflix’s ‘Inventing Anna’ follows the remarkable story of a young socialite who climbs her way up New York City’s social ladder by claiming to be a wealthy German heiress (or a Russian diplomat’s daughter, depending on who you ask). Unlike other grifters who generally vanish after they get the money, Anna sets her sights higher. Claiming to want to open an exclusive, members-only art club, she begins promoting a foundation called ADF under which the project will be run.
Considering the show’s real-life inspiration, we decided to dig around and see if ADF, as seen in ‘Inventing Anna,’ is a real foundation. We’ll also take a look at the ornate building (referred to as 281 Park Avenue) where Anna plans to house ADF and see if it actually exists. Let’s dive in!
Is ADF a Real Foundation?
On the show, “ADF” or the “Anna Delvey Foundation” becomes an oft-used phrase as Anna throws all her (grifter) efforts into making her project a legitimate reality. Having introduced herself as a wealthy German heiress with a $60 million trust fund, she claims that her family’s wealth will secure the foundation’s future. Thus starts Anna’s biggest scam, and she eventually manages to reel in two elite New York City banks in an attempt to get a loan worth millions (secured by fraudulent financial documents).
The real Anna Sorokin actually came up with the idea for ADF and spent many evenings talking to potential investors and other wealthy individuals about the project. According to Jessica Pressler’s 2018 New York Magazine article, she had a creative director in London helping her with the foundation’s branding and seemingly wondered whether the name “Anna Delvey Foundation” was maybe too narcissistic. Thus, people were seemingly actively working on getting the foundation together and considered it a legitimate enterprise.
However, it all came crashing down when Anna was arrested in 2017. Along with her credibility, all hopes for ADF were also seemingly lost. It appears like the foundation was never made official and doesn’t currently exist. Considering its namesake was discovered to be a fraudulent name (since Anna’s real last name is “Sorokin” and not “Delvey”), it does seem like the Anna Delvey Foundation, or ADF, was never a real foundation.
Is 281 Park Avenue a Real Building?
The ornate building that Anna sets her heart on to be the new home for ADF is a real building. On the show, “281 Park Avenue” refers to the actual Church Missions House. It is an iconic six-story building in downtown New York City located on the corner of Park Avenue South and East 22nd Street at, you guessed it, 281 Park Avenue.
The real Anna Sorokin, parading as Anna Delvey, claimed that a prestigious real-estate advisory company had helped her secure the lease for the historic 45,000 square feet space, which would be perfect for her “foundation.” In fact, the young socialite even began discussing potential uses for the space with well-known names in the food and beverage industry.
As seen on the show, the building was eventually taken over by its current tenants, Fotografiska New York (a branch of the Swedish photography museum). However, it seems like a few scenes from ‘Inventing Anna’ were also filmed around the iconic building, showing audiences just how high Anna Sorokin was aiming.