Setting out to be a one-of-a-kind opulent extravaganza in the Bahamas, Fyre Festival ended before it truly began. It soon went to turn into a real life version of the Hunger Games as termed by some of the unfortunate attendees present, and no doubt took the internet by storm and shock!
The festival literally imploded in its entirety at the end of April when thousands of ticket holders arrived at Exuma in the Bahamas for what was meant to be a luxury vacation of a lifetime. After all the promised glitz and glamor by way of marketing materials and top models who had been paid to promote the event,it took a disastrous nose dive as soon as visitors began to arrive.. Instead of the promised luxurious villas, they were welcomed by wet mattresses, porta-potties and disaster relief category tents.
In a rather shocking turn of events, Billy McFarland decided to give furious attendees the option to opt for VIP upgrades in place of refunds. Because YES, the exact thing you would want after getting stranded on an island devoid of basic necessities is to try your luck at it again next year. Apparently, some attendees who attempted to leave on their own were locked in an airport overnight with no access to food or water, of course they’d love to relive that! Later last week, they then revealed to their own employees that “there will be no payroll” on a telephonic conference call which Vice obtained for the duration of which Ja Rule remained mysteriously silent deciding to just listen in as McFarland broke the news. On this very call, concerns of an F.B.I. investigation were raised by an employee to which McFarland had callously responded to reroute any such queries to the Fyre Media Lawyers.
Along the way, not surprisingly at all considering how the events went down, the organizers have racked up around a dozen different lawsuits for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation claims, and violation of New York state business law to start with, amounting to millions of dollars. And as the New York Times has now reported, “The endeavor has also become the focus of a criminal investigation, with federal authorities looking into possible mail, wire and securities fraud, according to a source with knowledge of the matter, who was not authorized to discuss it. The investigation is being conducted by the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York and the F.B.I.; it is being overseen by a prosecutor assigned to the complex frauds and cybercrime unit. (A spokesman for the United States attorney’s office and a spokeswoman for the F.B.I. declined to comment.)”
The list of potential victims from this shit show were almost endless. From the ticket buyers, to the large investors and businesses small and large, spread across the United States and the Bahamas and not to forget Fyre’s own employees. As the New York Times article reported, there are many local vendors such as MaryAnn Rolle, a restaurant owner in the Bahamas who catered daily meals and rented villas to the festival crew, who is owed $134,000!
From the very beginning though, McFarland had been involved in sketchy business ethics. From Magnises back in 2013 which was “a membership club for upwardly mobile millennials, offering discounts at select hot spots and access to a West Village townhouse.” Moving on, in 2016 McFarland formed Fyre Media using his early business as a template. With the core idea behind it being the creation of a mobile application that would allow individuals to bid for celebrity appearances at their events. “In his bid for moguldom, however, Mr. McFarland had little regard for traditional business practices. According to four Fyre Media employees, who requested anonymity because of the continuing fallout, there was no paperwork upon their hiring, and the payroll system was ad hoc at best — employees were typically paid via wire transfer, and sometimes in cash, receiving no pay stubs."
Even though Ja Rule was the face of Fyre, but undoubtedly at the center of the controversy is McFarland. Aptly put by the NYT, “He could be the Wolf of Wall Street for the selfie set, or Gatsby run through an Instagram filter.” Ja Rule on the other hand, STILL seems to be looking on the brighter side claiming to have said,
“The whole world knows Fyre’s name now. This will pass, guys.”
Here's a first hand account of a couple who decided to venture out onto the festival sight to explore the wreckage that was to be the exuberant Fyre Fest.
Well, sad but true, but this Fyre is still raging long after...
H/T: The New York Times