FYRE FESTIVAL Ringleader Pleads Guilty
GUILTY: Fyre Festival Promotor Billy McFarland Pays for Festival Fail
Founder of the shit-show known as Fyre Festival plead guilty to wire fraud on Tuesday
Buried in lawsuits, Billy McFarland plead guilty Tuesday for lying to investors and sending false documents to help fund the “luxury festival and cultural experience of the decade” in 2017. Now 26, McFarland entered a plea deal with prosecutors who recommend he serve somewhere between eight to 10 years in jail. This is a small consolation for the Fyre CEO after it was earlier reported he would face a 40 year sentence.
Tickets for the festival ranged from $450 to VIP tickets worth $12,000, promising round-trip airfare and dinner with the artists. Needless to say, Fyre Festival under-delivered. McFarland paid huge money to big name Instagram influencers Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski and Kendall Jenner (who was paid 250,000), however, bands slowly saw holes in McFarland's lavish promises and dropped out. The promo was complete with glossy videos.
When festival-goers arrived they saw this.
Instead of high-end villas, there were tents. Instead of gourmet food, there was bread and cheese. The festival was a serious security risk, without adequate food, water, shelter or even medical staff. The festival was postponed, but not until after many ticket holders had already arrived.
“We started getting paid as wires from Billy’s account and one time [in January] we got paid in a wad of cash. They didn’t have any money. They kept paying the influencers and the models,” according to one employee.
Mcfarland is accused of falsifying documents that claimed Fyre Media had earned millions of dollars from talent books when actually earning close to $50,000. Additionally, he submitted false documents to a ticket vendor to receive over $2 million dollars in future festival tickets.
McFarland apologized, explaining that he, “grossly underestimated the resources that would be necessary to hold an event of this magnitude.” Co-promotor and rapper Ja Rule was not named in the federal case, but faces a bevy of pending civil suits with Mcfarland, who has his sentencing June 21.
Vulture does a masterful timeline of the whole saga here.