Fyre Festival was a failed “luxury music festival” founded by Billy McFarland, CEO of Fyre Media Inc, and rapper Ja Rule. It was created with the intent of promoting the company’s Fyre app for booking music talent. The festival was scheduled to take place from April 28–30 and May 5–7, 2017, on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma.
The event was promoted on Instagram by “social media influencers” including socialite and model Kendall Jenner, as well as models Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski, many of whom did not initially disclose they had been paid to do so.
During the Fyre Festival’s inaugural weekend, the event experienced problems related to security, food, accommodation, medical services and artist relations, resulting in the festival being postponed indefinitely. Instead of the luxury villas and gourmet meals for which festival attendees paid thousands of dollars, they received prepackaged sandwiches and FEMA tents as their accommodation.
As a result, the organizers are the subject of at least eight lawsuits, several seeking class action status, and one seeking more than $100 million in damages. The cases accuse the organizers of defrauding ticket buyers. On June 30, 2017, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York charged McFarland with one count of wire fraud.
In March 2018, he pled guilty to one count of wire fraud to defraud investors and a second count to defraud a ticket vendor. On October 11, 2018, McFarland was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to forfeit US $26 million.
Two documentaries about the events of the festival were released in 2019: Hulu’s Fyre Fraud, and Netflix’s Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.