Drama In the Bahamas: How the Fyre Fest Nightmare Burned Through Millions
publish date: 2017-05-03
The warning signs were evident as early as December 2016. Billy McFarland, a 25-year-old “tech bro,” as the New York Post once described him, decided to announce his and rapper Ja Rule’s plans for Fyre Festival — an ultra-luxury two-weekend musical event that would take place on Norman’s Cay, in the Exumas district of the Bahamas — with a lavish party. McFarland, the son of two real estate developers, wanted the festival’s Tribeca headquarters transformed into a Bahamian island pitched with extravagant tents in which guests would be served high-end food and gifted expensive leather-bound passport books.
But just days before the party, McFarland canceled. Not enough influencers had RSVP’d, one former Fyre insider told , and McFarland opted to eat the $50,000 he had spent rather than be embarrassed by poor attendance.
Five months later, the first-time festival that McFarland and Ja Rule had planned also imploded in spectacular fashion, generating a hail of angry social media posts by attendees who had arrived expecting yachts, villas and a lineup that included Migos, Major Lazer and Blink-182. Instead, they were met with FEMA-style tents filled with wet bedding, luggage dumped out of shipping containers, sweaty cheese sandwiches and widespread chaos.
Seth Crossno, a blogger who documented firsthand the disastrous proceedings on his Twitter feed (@WNFIV), recalls McFarland “standing on a table being very condescending. He’d say stuff like, ‘OK, who’s the next person to ask me the same question for the hundredth time?’ ”