Billy McFarland, the founder of the Fyre Festival, has been freed from prison early.
In 2017, McFarland planned the controversial and deceptive Fyre Festival. Several guests sued for damages after the catastrophic festival, and McFarland pleaded guilty to multiple counts of fraud.
What went down at the Fyre Festival?
The fashionable and want to be glamorous came to McFarland’s promised luxury music festival, which was held on a beach in the Bahamas.
When the punters arrived, however, things were not as they looked. Guests arrived to find unfinished stages, tents instead of posh accommodations, and a notoriously bad welcome dinner consisting of pre-sliced cheese and salad on toast.
Fyre Festival was founded by McFarland and musician Ja Rule. They used Instagram stars like Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Emily Ratajkowski to promote the festival as part of their marketing strategy. However, the influencers did not make it known that it was a paid advertisement. McFarland also stated that the location was on Pablo Escobar’s private island, which was untrue.
McFarland promised investors and spectators that he’d host a festival he couldn’t afford, which was more ambitious than his budget allowed. The luxurious villas intended in the run-up to the festival had to be abandoned due to a lack of funds. Then Pusha T, Tyger, Blink-182, Disclosure, Migos, and Skepta all dropped out of the star-studded lineup.
McFarland set up a plan for participants to pre-pay for bracelets that they could use to buy food and drinks on the site to cover the growing loans he took out to try to finance the festival.
5,000 people had purchased tickets for the festival when it was supposed to take place.
While the organisers hurried to construct the location, 500 people were held in a gazebo for a “impromptu beach party.” There weren’t enough tents for the 500 individuals who had really come when they were allowed on-site.
Guests were left on the island after the Bahamas government cancelled flights, with only one day to evacuate.
McFarland’s sentence to prison
The collapse of the Fyre Festival was a social media sensation, and two documentaries have been released on the disaster.
Multiple lawsuits for fraud and other claims were filed against McFarland and Ja Rule, seeking damages.
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The FBI then looked into McFarland for mail fraud, wire fraud, and securities fraud. He was sentenced to six years in jail and compelled to pay $26 million after pleading guilty to two counts of wire fraud.
McFarland served his time at the Elkton Federal Correctional Institution in Ohio.
McFarland’s lawyers requested his release in 2020, but the request was denied. That year, he began a podcast called ‘Dumpster Fyre’ from prison to provide his perspective on the festival.
McFarland was given special protection and confined in solitary confinement for six months as a result of the podcast.
He has been released four years into his six-year sentence.
However, don’t hold your breath for a second season of Fyre Festival.