In Seinfeld's episode The Boyfriend, Part 1, when George is at an unemployment office he lies that he gave his last interview at Vandelay Industries for the position of a latex salesman.

George made that name up on the spot in haste. He extends the lie further and says that he was interviewed by a person named Art Vandelay. (Again, a made up name.)

George is seen using the name "Art Vandelay" in many other episodes whenever he is in need of a fake name. Interestingly enough, in "The Finale", the judge's name was Arthur Vandelay.

What was the inspiration (if at all) for the names "Vandelay Industries" and "Art Vandelay"? Did the show creators/writers ever comment on that?

Update: The reason I am particularly interested in this name is that Google tells me it is not a common name at all and there is no real life company on which the name might particularly be based on. Sometimes such peculiar names are inspired from on a real life company or names and then modified and conveniently mocked.

(And oh this: Art Vandelay on Linkedin. I am amazed!)

  • 6
    Because I love the show and that's why it matters to me and that's why I want to know the reason behind it. There are always reasons behind some particular jokes which are repeated in some shows/movies.
    – Ravindra S
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 9:59
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    You're ignoring half of my question... Is there something that makes this name special over all the hundreds of character names on Seinfeld? Do you have any reason to believe that this name was magically crafted rather than just picked at random... We don't need hundreds of "how did they come up with this name" questions on this site... There's nothing I can see that makes this name more worthy of explanation than any other.
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 10:04
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    If you read the question again, the show has used the name "Vandelay" multiple times in fake or otherwise manner. That's my simple reason to believe. That's why I believe there might be a backstory to it and it might not have picked at random. Maybe like how the character Kramer was loosely based on Kenny Kramer, Larry David's (the writer) ex-neighbor across the hall.
    – Ravindra S
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 10:16
  • 8
    Your downvote, vote-to-close and comment is duly noted and appreciated. But accusing me and my question that it might inspire other hundreds of "how did they come up with this name" questions just because you don't agree with the premise of my question is little too much and unacceptable to me.
    – Ravindra S
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 10:19
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    @RavindraS - I agree. Trying to discourage people from asking relevant questions on a Q&A website is neither helpful nor sensible.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 1 at 16:20

2 Answers 2


It was just random inspiration. Larry David, Seinfeld's co-creator who co-wrote the episode in which the name originated (The Stake Out), says on a season 1 DVD extra:

I don't know an Art Vandelay. It's just something that... came out.

And you can see that in the episode itself, where it's randomly created as well when Jerry and George make a friend up as an excuse to 'accidentally' bump into a woman. After 'Bert Harbinson' is rejected because it sounds too fake, it was first Art Cor (maybe because George likes to say he's an architect and it sounds a bit like Art Deco and Decor), then George adds a -velay to it because it sounds fancy, then he anxiously forgets it's Corvelay altogether and suddenly thinks that it's Vandelay. So eventually, this is just a product of George's frantic fabrications, and he could've landed on any other name. Vandelay stuck simply because they came back to it in later episodes. AFAIK (after a bit of research), it's not based on anything real.


In the 1959 Hitchcock film North By Northwest, the antagonist VanDamm is described as an "importer-exporter ...".

That's not far off from Vandelay.

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    Welcome to Movies.SE! This feels like a stretch; do you have any evidence that this was an intentional reference? The accepted answer from 2016 contains some compelling evidence that it isn't.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented May 1 at 8:32

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