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Billy McFarland claims Fyre Festival II is ‘finally happening’

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.

Going on to serve four years before his release in 2021, McFarland has already launched a new start-up called PYRT and boasted that his newest, ambiguous venture will include a hotel, events, merch, and even ‘treasure hunts.’ As you’d expect, hardly anyone is taking his entrepreneurial credentials seriously and he is mocked en masse any time he rears his head.

In easily his most brazen move yet, however, McFarland has posted a tweet suggesting that Fyre Festival may actually be returning in some capacity. ‘Fyre Festival II is finally happening,’ he said on April 10th. ‘Tell me why you should be invited?’

Failing to respond to requests for further details, the failed creator jested that he would ‘crush the island version first’ and that ‘Fyre 3 definitely needs to be in space,’ in which he tagged Twitter chief Elon Musk.

Exactly how serious he is about these endeavours materialising remains to be seen, but given the scope of deceit already left in McFarlane’s wake, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see further developments in the near future.

‘It’s in the best interest of those I owe for me to be working. people aren’t getting paid back if I sit on the couch and watch tv,’ he responded to one user on Twitter.

Outside of the comments section, the fleeting nature of social media means that people like McFarland are rarely held accountable for their actions. The man has served his time, granted, but the fact he is continuing to build an online platform and brand from which to potentially profit is ironic at best, and laughable and worst.

The dramatic unravelling of Frye Festival was undoubtedly captivating, but it’s important to remember that many livelihoods were destroyed… and it all started with a little orange tile on Instagram.

‘The best way to be sorry is through my future actions,’ McFarland said in 2017 after the guilty verdict.