Fyre Festival Founder Sentenced to Prison

The Debacle Cost Customers and Investors Over $26 Million

Bridgewater, VA. – Twenty-six-year-old Billy McFarland, the organizer behind 2017’s failed Fyre Festival, has been sentenced to six years in prison and must forfeit $26 million. This sentencing came on Thursday, Oct. 11, which is over a year after McFarland left hundreds of Fyre Festival attendees stranded on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma.

The fiasco that was Fyre Festival happened between late April and early May 2017. The festival was scheduled to run for two consecutive weekends, April 28 through April 30 and May 5 through May 7.

It was billed as an “immersive music festival” that would provide attendees with a luxurious VIP experience. There would be high-profile bands and musicians like Blink-182, Lil Yachty, Migos and more.

In addition, the organizers of the festival had invited a host of celebrities and other influential persons, which made a substantial contribution towards encouraging people to attend the event.

Starr Catering Group was initially contacted to provide gourmet catering services as well. All of this and a couple nights on a Bahamian island cost attendees between $5,000 and $250,000, depending on the ticket they were interested in.

“I’ve lived every day with the weight of knowing that I literally destroyed the lives of my friends and family.”

However, upon their arrival, the hundreds of hopeful festival goers found the Fyre Festival to be lacking in every department. Certain bands such as Blink-182 had cancelled and would not be performing.

Starr Catering Group had also backed out, so the food consisted of styrofoam boxes containing cheese sandwiches–just two pieces of bread with some cheese–and a very small side salad.

The promised luxury housing was absent; attendees had to sleep in makeshift tent cities, some of which were not fully developed when people began to arrive on the evening of April 27.

Of course, the festival goers did not stick around for long. They immediately tried to board the planes back to Miami; however, not all were able to escape the Fyre Festival so quickly, with many people stranded in airports as they waited for room on a plane.

It was certainly not the promised VIP experience.

Aside from the charges related to the Fyre Festival, McFarland is also charged with selling fake tickets to events like Coachella and the Super Bowl through a separate company called NYC VIP Access.

This took place in late 2017 and early 2018. McFarland was arrested in June of 2018 for the ticket-selling scam.

The failed Fyre Festival and McFarland’s involvement with selling fake tickets has led to a number of lawsuits and McFarland’s recent sentencing. During his hearing, McFarland appeared to be very apologetic and regretful of his actions.

As reported by Vice News, he repeatedly said “I’m sorry” as the hearing went on. He additionally stated, “the remorse I feel is crushing,” and “I’ve lived every day with the weight of knowing that I literally destroyed the lives of my friends and family.”

McFarland’s defense asked the court for a lighter sentence, saying that McFarland had been recently diagnosed with a bipolar disorder.

According to The Associated Press, McFarland sometimes has “delusional beliefs of having special and unique talents that will lead to fame and fortune.” This did not sway the judge, who upheld the sentence.