Rapper Ja Rule and entrepreneur Billy McFarland created what was promised to be a “millennials paradise,” an exclusive music festival in the middle of the Bahamas. When customers arrived at the “Fyre Festival” in April of 2017, their visions of this picture perfect instagrammable world was shattered.
Instead of luxury villas, guests were housed in flimsy tents with soaking wet mattresses from rain the night before. Along with having insufficient hygiene facilities there was a lack of running water.
“It was starting to get dark,” Tara Conlin, a producer at MediaMonks who attended the event, said. “All of our hangovers were setting in and we had eight girls so we had to try to find tents with beds, find our luggage and bathrooms. It was a pretty surreal moment and everyone was just freaking out.”
The festival had failed to meet the most basic of logistic requirements, such as having proper accommodations and transportation, and all of the music acts had canceled or didn’t show up. Less than 24 hours after guests arrived, they were forced to leave.
“Fyre Festival set out to provide a once-in-a-lifetime musical experience,” the organizers put out in a statement. “Due to circumstances out of our control, the physical infrastructure was not in place on time and we are unable to fulfill on that vision safely and enjoyably for our guests.”
Both Netflix and Hulu recently released an in-depth documentary uncovering
the horrors of the event, showcasing how it spiraled out of control from beginning to end.
Seth Crossno is featured in both documentaries and operates the Twitter account @WNFIV that posted much of the viral content from the festival.
“It was dangerous,” the Raleigh blogger said. “There was no security to be seen and so many people at the event,” Crossno said. “I interviewed someone on my podcast who got second degree burns and had to be rushed to the hospital.”
Crossno spent $5,000 to secure his ticket to the event and could be the first to receive legal compensation for the scam.
Crossno sued co-founder McFarland and won $5 million, but still hasn’t received any money.
“Knowing Billy and knowing he still hasn’t paid back investors $27 million dollars,” Crossno said. “I’m not holding my breath.”
Mitch Purgason, a 26-year-old clothing designer, spent $1,200 on his ticket and made the most of his situation.
“The festival didn’t happen which was disappointing,” Purgason stated. “But I was still on the beach drinking as much as I wanted and was surrounded by hot babes listening to music on our phones.”
McFarland is currently serving a six-year prison sentence and will have to pay more than $26 million in restitution. He was sentenced for fraudulent transactions between ticket holders and investors for the Fyre Festival and for selling over $100,000 worth of fake tickets to other exclusive events like the Grammys and the Met Gala. After serving the six years, he will have three years of supervised release and forfeit $26 million in profits he made in his scams. He also has several class action lawsuits against him from individuals who attended the Fyre Festival.
As for Ja Rule, he plans to finish what he started. “[Fyre] is the most iconic festival that never was,” he said to TMZ last week. “I have plans to create the iconic music festival, but you didn’t hear it from me.”
Ja Rule isn’t facing any criminal charges but is named in many civil suits and has been the subject of ridicule on social media.