Anna Delvey, the notorious scammer who traversed the upper echelons of the art world prior to being caught and arrested for grand larceny, finally opened her own art show on Thursday.
Titled “Allegedly,” the event took place at Bar Chrystie in the Public Hotel. Before it even opened, it was covered extensively by the press, garnering headlines in the New York Post, the Daily Mail, and Rolling Stone, as well as art publications like this one. While many in the art world wouldn’t be caught dead working with or being seen supporting the young German, it seems that Delvey pulled off a wildly successful event, even though she is still behind bars.
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“I will say this, it was a really good time,” said Gutes Guterman, cofounder of the Drunken Canal, who attended Anna Delvey’s solo show. “Someone called the event the ‘death of culture,’ but it was the pinnacle. A socialite behind bars? That’s so pop culture.”
Delvey is committed to the bit, which is perhaps the best you can hope for amid a celebrity culture that has turned to anxious hyper-management of one’s image.
At last night’s opening, a Delvey drag performer lipsynced, donning her trademark heavy, black framed glasses. Afterward, models wearing nylon masks stomped around the bar holding Delvey’s sketches. The works are simple pencil on paper drawings with a comical bent that she created in Orange County Detention (she is now in ICE detention for overstaying her visa). Some drawings were faux newspaper covers titled The Delvey Crimes or The Delvey Journal, in which cartoons and captions abound.
“I was surprised by how many jabs she was willing to make at her own expense,” Guterman mused. “It wasn’t defensive. She could acknowledge her character and misdeeds.”
But is the art world really willing to take her back? Delvey is represented by the relatively unknown Chris Martine, the cofounder of Founders Art Club, which he described in a previous interview as “an advisory body and group of influential collectors.” But according to Guterman, it was mostly press who showed up at the event.
At the end of the night, Delvey made a surprise appearance—virtually, that is. She showed off her yellow prison outfit and said hello, responded to the interviewers’ questions while phones winked to catch a piece of this New York legend for their own social media accounts.
While Delvey might have originally angled to be a part of the private elite, it seems she’s found herself a nice alternative: the circus of celebrity. But it doesn’t seem like she’s willing to give up on her dream.
“She cut corners and did illegal things, she made mistakes and ultimately went to prison for it,” Martine said. “But this time around she’s trying to enter the art world in a different way—as an artist. And she obviously has the talent.”
Asked about whether he thought people would support her in her latest endeavor, Martine said, “The art world is a funny place… there’s people who are more open to, you know, these alternative New Age kind of concepts, and then there’s the traditional old school galleries and art people who are going to take a while to let their guard down. I think this was just the first step in her new journey as an artist.”
It’s a long game. For now, Martine and Delvey are waiting until she’s out of prison. Once that happens, Martine is planning on setting her up with a studio space and materials. “Then,” he said, “we’ll see what she can do.”