By: Nina Kanani | Writer
February 1, 2019
Promised to be the most extravagant music festival ever, featuring “first-class culinary experiences and a luxury atmosphere,” instead the Fyre Fest will forever live in millennial infamy.
Scheduled to take place April 28-30 and May 5-7 of 2017, the Fyre Fest failed epically. Started by Billy McFarland, the team promoted the event with models and Instagram influencers, including Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin, and others. The company, Fyre, claimed that this would be one of the most luxurious festivals on a private island in the Bahamas, including beachfront villas, gourmet food, excursions, and famous performers. Attendees paid $3,000 or more for this 3-day festival which ended up being a scam in the end. They promised headliners including Major Lazer, Migos, Blink 182, Lil Yachty, and Disclosure to name a few.
“It’s crazy to think that a festival that seems as legitimate as Coachella…ended up being a scam,” senior Quinn Petersen said. “By having so many famous people post about it, it really seemed real.”
The situation first raised questions when the company failed to respond to people’s questions about flights, rooms, and food on their Instagram page. They were told they would fly in a luxurious private jet, however the models and performers were surprised to see an economy class plane waiting for their arrival.
Once arriving on the island, McFarland claimed there was a private island he purchased in the Bahamas (originally owned by Pablo Escobar). Yet it was realized that the festival grounds were on an undeveloped area in Nassau, the largest island in the chain of islands, next to Sandals Resort. Rather than seeing the elegant villas that they expected, there were hundreds of tents (left over from Hurricane Irma relief efforts) with mattresses laying on the ground that festival goers where expected to sleep on, including those people that paid extra for beachfront villas. Realizing that they were being scammed, the attendees fled to the nearest airport, with nearly 300 people spending a full day in the airport as they waited for a flight.
“I can’t believe they were able to get away with this,” senior Devyn Shanley said. “Convincing over 300 people and some of the most famous models makes me question how many other scams are out there.”
McFarland, the main organizer of the festival, was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to forfeit $26,000,000. He was later arrested again in a separate fraud case where he made over $100,000 selling fake tickets to Coachella and the annual Met Gala.
For more information, two documentaries about the Fyre Festival controversy have been created on both Netflix and Hulu.