The serial fraudster is said to owe $26m for duping more than 100 investors in 2017. Five years on, he claims that a second attempt at Fyre Festival is ‘finally happening.’
Incarceration is supposed to be about rehabilitation, right?
In the case of Billy McFarland – a man once compared to the kingpin of arguably America’s worst financial fraud ever, Bernie Madoff – it doesn’t appear that much repentance has taken place.
If you’re a Netflix or Hulu subscriber, you’ll likely know all about McFarland already. The obsessive entrepreneur (or more accurately con artist) headed up several fleeting business projects before pinning his hat on Fyre Festival in 2017.
Comprehensively covered in Frye: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, which in my opinion remains Netflix’s finest documentary to date, we see how the 31-year-old manipulated hundreds of investors, labour workers, and music fans into attending a one-of-a-kind luxury festival that simply didn’t exist.
Allured by the prospect of partying with supermodel influencers like Kendall Jenner and Hailey Beiber, staying in flashy beach-side villa accommodations, and seeing big headline acts such as Blink 182, Major Lazer, and Lil Yachty, some 5,000 tickets were sold – some for $75,000 a pop.
A year after the announcement, the reality was stark and calamitous. Hundreds of attendees found themselves stranded at a derelict site with earthquake response tents to sleep in, poor quality food, no drinking water, and a complete lack of any direction or organisation.
McFarland would ultimately end up sentenced to six years in prison in 2017, following a guilty plea to charges of wire fraud and a forfeiture order of £26m after defrauding over 100 investors. It was only public GoFundMe pages that ensured Bahamian labourers and caterers were properly compensated.