The new Netflix series, Inventing Anna, tells the true story of Anna “Delvey” Sorokin, the fake heiress who swindled the New York society scene and took the city by storm following the publication of a New York Magazine exposé. Set primarily in New York City, the filming locations for Inventing Anna mix spots in New York and Los Angeles. New Yorkers love almost nothing more than a great grifter story (recall the “Hipster Grifter” of the early aughts) and it turns out, national audiences do too, with the series hitting #1 on the streaming platform over the weekend. The show tells Anna’s story in conjunction with that of a reporter, modeled after the real-life reporter Jessica Pressler, who is trying to get her story.
The trick is on all of us through, as Anna sold her story to Netflix for $320,000 while she was awaiting trial (proceeds ended up being used to pay back the people she had defrauded). Sorokin, currently in an ICE detention center where she landed after serving her criminal sentence, wrote in an essay, “nothing about seeing a fictionalized version of myself in this criminal-insane-asylum setting sounds appealing to me.”
Read on to discover some of the fabulous filming locations for Inventing Anna, and where the production crew substituted Los Angeles for New York City. We think our eagle eye readers can always spot these substitutions (an approach also used in The Morning Show).
1. New York City Criminal Court
In the first episode, you see exterior scenes outside the courthouses in Lower Manhattan, with the Manhattan Municipal Building and the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse designed by Cass Gilbert in the background. We see reporter Vivian Kent (played by Anna Chlumsky) heading into a building with a WPA-style bas relief sculpture on the facade. Vivian is hoping to hear the first hearing in the criminal case against Anna (played by Julia Garner) in Inventing Anna. This is the location of New York County Supreme Court and New York City Civil Court.
In real life, Anna was charged in New York City Criminal Court — she would have appeared at 100 Centre Street rather than at the building shown in the show. You can see the criminal court building in the series When They See Us.
2. Rikers Island
I was impressed to see the details of how to get to Rikers Island recreated quite faithfully. I worked previously in Rikers Island leading a legal workshop for the juvenile detainees, and the complicated transportation and the long waits are very accurate. In Inventing Anna, we see Vivian catch the Q100 bus — which goes from Hazen Street in Astoria over the bridge to Rikers Island — then go through security to speak to Anna, who is in the Rose M. Singer Center, the detention center for women.
Many television shows like The Undoing, The Night Of , Mr. Robot, and New Amsterdam, use the Queens House of Detention in Kew Gardens as the filming location to show Rikers Island. A few details of Inventing Anna were shot at the Queens House of Dentention as well. The only recent television show to have actually filmed inside Rikers Island was Mozart in the Jungle. The interior of Rikers Island were built on a soundstage.
3. Central Park
Anna’s lawyer Todd Spodek arranges to run into Assistant District Attorney Catherine McCaw in Central Park as he’s dropping his daughter off to school and MCCaw is walking her dog. They see each other just by the Driprock Arch, near Wollman Rink and the Heckscher Ballfields.
Todd is trying to convince McCaw not to try the case but McCaw answers, “But I do. She is a criminal. She stole from some of the biggest banks and hotels in the city.” Spodek responds, “Allegedly. And everyone hates banks and everyone thinks hotels overcharge.” You may recognize the actor, Arian Moayed, who plays Todd — he is Stewy on Succession. Later, Vivian meets with someone in Central Park who has footage of one of Anna’s trips to Morocco.
4. Park Slope
Vivian Kent lives with her husband in Park Slope, just off the F/G subway stop at 7th Avenue. Vivian is pregnant but realizes how important this story will be for her career. We see inklings in the first two episodes of an event which compromised her as a reporter and the reason she has stayed at “Manhattan” magazine (an obvious reference to New York Magazine.
The actual subway entrance she exits from in the first episode is actually located on 8th Avenue, next to the Parkview Market. It is suggested that her apartment is just across the street.
5. Flatiron Building and Madison Square
In the second episode, Rachel and Neff, former best friends of Anna, meet next to Madison Square Park as news of Anna’s arraignment come out. Neff, who works at the 12 George Hotel (an obvious play on 11 Howard, the real hotel where Anna overstayed her welcome), still wants to support Anna. Rachel, who was conned by Anna, is incredulous and refuses to visit Anna at Rikers.
There is an establishing shot of the Flatiron Building which cuts down to street level. If you look closely, the street scene doesn’t make sense geographically — the backdrop is on a green screen. There would not be a cafe jutting in on the right side of the scene because in real life, Fifth Avenue is there. Then, you’ll see a bus that is intended to be a New York City MTA bus and has some of the accurate lettering and signage put on it, but the model of the bus is not one used in New York City.
The big con that got Delvey in trouble was her attempt to create the “Anna Delvey Foundation,” a private club and art foundation. Inventing Anna actually uses the real-life location, the former Church Missions House that is now home to the museum Fotografiska, Inventing Anna was filmed in the months leading up to the opening of the new Fotografiska location here, while it was still under construction. In one scene, you will see the exterior of the museum’s new Chapel Bar.
When Anna was unable to raise enough funds from private investors, she turned to banks and started forging bank statements. This scheme then pulled in City National Bank and Fortress Investment Group. The latter is named directly in Inventing Anna.
7. American Copper Building
Anna was the master of finding places to stay without paying the bill. In Inventing Anna, we first see her staying at the philanthropist Nora Radford’s apartment. A major plot point involves her stay at the hotel called 12 George, based on her real-life stay at 11 Howard.
We also see the pool of the American Copper Building, on the East Side of Manhattan, in episode six. Kacy, a fitness guru who is one of Anna’s friends, is training a client in the pool. This SHoP architect-designed building features a skybridge pool that connects both towers of the rental complex.
8. The Hamptons
Vivian Kent and her husband drive out to the Hamptons so that Vivian can interview the fashion and lifestyle mogul Talia Mallay, who shows up in some of Anna’s instagram photographs. They go to Mallay’s Hamptons beach house, where Vivian and her husband are later invited to stay the night after the interview. In real life, this was filmed in a house in Quogue, standing in for Amangansett.
Mallay recounts how she meet Anna — how she was impressed with her knowledge of art and her taste — and the trip to Ibiza where things went south.
9. Storm King
Anna finally gets into Nora Radford’s good graces, at the expense of her boyfriend Chase. Nora takes her to an event at Storm King, a sculpture park in the Hudson Valley. Radford is a major key in Anna’s infiltration of New York City society.
Throughout Storm King are scattered large-scale art installations by renown artists like Alexander Calder, Isamu Noguchi, Richard Serra, Sol Lewitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Alice Aycock, Mark di Suvero, and more. Earlier, when Anna goes shopping with Radford, they go to Bergdorf Goodman (the scene where the private shopping session takes place is actually filmed inside the 4th floor suite of the Plaza Hotel).
10. Bank of America Tower
Is that Dr. Mark Greene? Anthony Edwards from ER plays lawyer Alan Reed who comes on board to help Anna secure the $40 million financing needed to create ADF, the Anna Delvey Foundation. Reed works inside One Bryant Park, the Bank of America Tower, on the corner of 42nd Street and 6th Avenue across from Bryant Park.
At first Reed is not interested, but Anna persists — showing up repeatedly without a meeting. Finally, she convinces him and they become close friends. Alan’s apartment is filmed in the penthouse of the Mark Hotel.
11. 12 George Hotel
For the exterior of the 12 George hotel, which represents the real 11 Howard that Anna stayed in for months, the ground floor of Highline Stages in the Meatpacking District was used. The interior lobby and suites were built on a set.
Anna meets Neff, an aspiring filmmaker, who works as a concierge at the 12 George. Anna has been tipping extravagantly at the hotel and the staff has forgotten that she didn’t leave a credit card at check-in.
13. Manhattan Magazine Offices
The offices of Manhattan magazine where Vivian Kent works is a set inside 1155 Avenue of the Americas, but it’s modeled very closely after the real New York Magazine, where Jessica Pressler the journalist whom Kent is modeled after works.
The actor who played Lou, Jeff Perry, asked to see what “Scriberia” looked like in the actual New York Magazine offices, and the staff there obliged recreating what the area of the office once felt like.
When Anna and her friends got to Paris, the Hotel Gulaszky exterior scenes are shot at 1107 Fifth Avenue, a building also used as a filming location in The Undoing. The lobby of the Lotte New York Palace Hotel (a favorite location on the original Gossip Girl) as the interior of the Parisian hotel. In the exterior shots, a Parisian style newsstand has been added to the block along with other details but you’ll catch an MTA bus sign in the background that was not edited out!
For the episode, they also film in the Upper East Side French restaurant Orsay and filmed the fashion show scenes at the Manhattan Municipal Court underpass at Police Plaza.
15. Billy Macfarland’s Apartment
Anna somehow meets Billy Macfarland of Fyre Festival notoriety, and is squatting in his apartment/office for Magnises, the membership club company Macfarland is also running. Viewers may be surprised that the two now-convicted swindlers, were actually roommates!
The apartment scenes are filmed in the Soho townhouse, known previously as the World of Mcintosh townhouse, an immersive creative space that showcases the products of the Mcintosh sound products. It is now an event space known as 214 Lafayette. This townhouse was also a filming location in Mr. Robot.
16. Beauty & Essex
Alan Reed and his wife take their daughter to dinner, where she learns she is going to get cut off financially if she doesn’t figure out her life. His wife is worried about the safety about the Lower East Side neighborhood (reflecting well the fear of sheltered uptowners) but Reed assures her nobody gets mugged in New York City anymore and that Anna has recommended this hidden restaurant, located behind a pawn shop.
The interior is filmed at Beauty & Essex, a real hidden restaurant behind a pawn shop. But interestingly the exterior was filmed elsewhere at a different shop.
17. Le Coucou Restaurant
Le Coucou Restaurant is shown as the in-house restaurant of 12 George. In real-life, Le Coucou on Lafayette Street is connected to 11 Howard in Soho. Le Coucou was designed by renowned firm Roman and Williams and run by chef Daniel Rose.
Other restaurants in Inventing Anna include STK restaurant in Midtown where Todd Spodeck, Mags, Vivian, and Jack go to dinner. Vivian also goes to 169 Bar on the Lower East Side for a meeting, Del Posto for the dinner that includes Martin Shkreli, ABC Cocina where Alan is introduced to Anna’s friends,
18. Whitney Museum
Alan Reed and Anna go to the Whitney Museum to look at some art. Alan is looking to replace the painting in his office, which Anna made fun of. Although you can’t exactly buy a painting that is on display at the Whitney, it’s what is shown in the show. The scene serves to reinforce Anna sharp sense of taste and her ability to charm the people around her.
Alan is also shown going to the “Varsity Club,” which is filmed at the Union League Club. The squash scenes are filmed at The Yale Club.
19. John Jay College of Criminal Justice
When Rachel decides to pursue legal action against Anna, she heads to the District Attorney’s office. You might be wondering where that elaborately carved entrance is, since the real DA’s office is a rather brutalist-looking building in Lower Manhattan (seen on Billions).
The real filming location is actually the entrance to John Jay College of Criminal Justice. You can see a bit of Mt. Sinai West Hospital (previously St. Luke’s Roosevelt) behind Rachel in the shot.
20. Lincoln Center
Todd Spodek is married to the wealthy Mags (played by Caitlin Fitzgerald, most recently seen on Station 11). She attends many fundraiser and social events, and later in Inventing Anna, you will see Todd and Mags in black tie at Lincoln Center.
In episode 9, you will see Vivian meet with Todd on the Dumbo waterfront, sitting at Empire Fulton Ferry Park, (not far from the new Emily Warren Roebling Plaza). The Brooklyn Bridge looms in the background.