— Trevor DeHaas (@trev4president) April 28, 2017
The flame of disaster is still burning strong for the failed Fyre Festival.
According to an incredible post-mortem in the Times, the festival is currently under investigation by the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York and the F.B.I., who are looking into whether the organizers committed mail, wire and securities fraud. (The F.B.I. and the US attorney’s office declined to comment to the Times).
This is in addition to the dozen or so lawsuits the festival is facing from disappointed attendees, contractors who have not been paid (and in some cases, can’t get their equipment out of the Bahamas) and the festival’s investors.
The Times article lays a lot of the blame for the mess at the feet of Billy McFarland, who co-organized the festival with Ja Rule. Calling him “the Wolf of Wall Street for the selfie set, or Gatsby run through an Instagram filter,” the article provides some pretty incredible details about him and how he ran his business. To name just a few of them:
1) He paid employees of Fyre Media via wire transfer.
2) He and the other higher ups invented luxury amenities and accommodations for Fyre Festival “just to see if people would buy them — and some did”
3) He carried around thousands of dollars in cash in his swimsuit (if someone ever needed money, he would pull out “$500, crumpled up, a little humid because he went jet skiing with it”)
4) He used the $2 million he collected from attendees for expenses to pay back the festival’s loans
5) He lied to his employees that Comcast Ventures had invested $25 million in the festival (they had passed on the opportunity).
6) He refused to cancel the festival, even when a storm hit and it became obvious nothing was coming together.
This is not the first unsuccessful venture McFarland has made, either. He is also the guy behind the networking group, Magnises, which promised its members access and perks like Beyoncé ticket and then failed to deliver them.
As for his co-organizer, Ja Rule, he seems to be looking at the bright side. “That’s not fraud, that’s not fraud,” Ja Rule said, according to a recording of a Fyre Fest company meeting obtained by the Times. “False advertising, maybe — not fraud.” [NYT]