Fyre Festival was advertised as “the unparalleled best in music, cuisine, design and hospitality on a private island in the Exumas”—but according to patrons, the experience was anything but luxurious and ended with a plethora of lawsuits.
Fyre Festival attendees arrived to inadequate basic necessities—including food, housing and electricity—never mind the luxurious promises. When guests tried to evacuate the island, everyone was stranded in an extreme lack of organization and infrastructure.
Now, the failed festival is getting its own Netflix documentary, and the streaming giant released its trailer. Netflix revealed in December that it acquired Fyre, a documentary about the 2017 festival, along with a short teaser.
Fyre Media, a booking company from rapper Ja Rule and his tech partner Billy McFarland, created the event. Chris Smith connected with festival organizers to tell a behind-the-scenes tale.
Some of the headlining artists for Fyre Festival included blink-182, G.O.O.D Music and Major Lazer. blink-182 cancelled both their performances, but their name still gets tossed into the documentary as proof of the downfall.
Check out a first look at FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened below. The documentary hits Netflix Jan. 18.
Fyre Festival’s first weekend
The supposedly uber luxurious festival was set to take place over two weekends in April and May 2017.
Originally, festival goers were promised a roundtrip to the Bahamas on a custom, VIP Boeing 737 aircraft, which would escort them from Miami International Airport to Exuma International Airport. According to BuzzFeed, Tickets cost between $2,000 to $12,000. The Wall Street Journal reported that tickets were up to $250,000.
They began advertising the fest back in Dec. 2016, and some of that footage is still available on their Facebook.
However, not only did Fyre not deliver on their luxurious accommodations, but it seems they also haven’t delivered on basic necessities, such as adequate food, housing and electricity.
— Axel (@AXELSCYTHE) April 28, 2017
Here’s the “culinary experience” we got for our artists pass at Fyre Festival. pic.twitter.com/Kk9q9uvkX0
— William Needham Finley IV (@WNFIV) April 28, 2017
— Trevor DeHaas (@trev4president) April 28, 2017
Leaving the island was also a struggle. Some were stuck on planes for hours. One guest has posted a video of the airport chaining doors shut.
— Lamaan. لمان القلال (@LamaanElGallal) April 28, 2017
According to Vanity Fair, Fyre had 40 acts scheduled to perform. Some of the headlining artists for Fyre Festival included blink-182, G.O.O.D Music and Major Lazer. blink-182 cancelled both their performances at the festival through this post on their social media, citing that they were “not confident that [they] would have what [they] need to give you the quality of performances [they] always give their fans.”
— blink-182 (@blink182) April 27, 2017
The organizers later took to their website to announce they were postponing the event.
“Fyre Festival set out to provide a once-in-a-lifetime musical experience on the Islands of the Exumas.
“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. At this time, we are working tirelessly to get flights scheduled and get everyone off of Great Exuma and home safely as quickly as we can. We ask that guests currently on-island do not make their own arrangements to get to the airport as we are coordinating those plans. We are working to place everyone on complimentary charters back to Miami today; this process has commenced and the safety and comfort of our guests is our top priority.
“The festival is being postponed until we can further assess if and when we are able to create the high-quality experience we envisioned.
“We ask for everyone’s patience and cooperation during this difficult time as we work as quickly and safely as we can to remedy this unforeseeable situation. We will continue to provide regular updates via email to our guests and via our official social media channels as they become available.”
Fyre Festival legal troubles
Since its first failed weekend, Fyre has been hit with several lawsuits. Ja Rule and McFarland were first hit with a $100 million lawsuit.
Celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos filed the suit shortly after the failed event, which looked to include 150 participants. Daniel Jung is the plaintiff for the case, and he sued for “fraud, breach of contract, breach of covenant of good faith, and negligent misrepresentation on the part of the organizers, totaling at least $100 million in damages.”
A couple days later, Fyre was hit with two more suits from a ticket purchaser and an event management company.
Pitchfork reports, “National Event Services sued Fyre Media in Philadelphia federal court. The Pennsylvania-based company, which provides staffing and logistics for various types of big events, is alleging breach of contract, fraud, and negligence.” They are looking for $250,000 in damages.
The ticket purchaser is suing the festival for breach of contract and fraud.
In July 2017, co-founder McFarland was arrested and charged with fraud. According to a statement by Joon H. Kim, US attorney for the Southern District of New York, “McFarland allegedly presented fake documents to induce investors to put over a million dollars into his company and the fiasco called the Fyre Festival.”
The NYT writes that “at least two people invested about $1.2 million in the two companies… Mr. McFarland repeatedly overstated Fyre Media’s revenue from bookings and his own wealth.” A criminal complaint states that while McFarland claimed to have brought in multiple millions in bookings, the records actually show earnings of only $57,000.
McFarland later pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, which are connected to funds he got from investors. The court ordered him to repay $26 million he admitted to stealing from investors.