The organizers of the music “Laksheri Festival” in the Bahamas tried to lure rich guests with yachts and models, but could only offer tents and sandwiches.

Continued October 12, 2018: Billy MacFarland was sentenced to six years in prison and fined $ 26 million .

In 2016, entrepreneur Billy McFarland (Billy McFarland) announced the Fyre Festival – a music festival for “rich youth” in the Bahamas with VIP rooms, famous performers, private jets and food from the best chefs in the world. The event was advertised by famous Instagram models and stars, and the tickets were worth several thousand dollars.

However, at the end of April, the guests came to the festival and found that instead of the promised paradise, they ended up in a tent camp without beds and with terrible food, and musicians and celebrities did not come. The media have already called the Fyre Festival “the worst festival in history”, and the organizers have been filed by two collective lawsuits. However, they leave no hope to revive the failed project in 2018.

Club without benefits

Before coming up with the Fyre Festival, Billy McFarland already had a bad reputation in the field of youth parties. At the end of 2013, then another 22-year-old entrepreneur founded the company Magnises: a closed club for “status millenials”. For an annual contribution of $ 250, members of the club received a card that “takes their life to the next level”.

Magnises project participants were promised discounts in the best clubs in New York and exclusive invitations to prestigious private parties, cultural events, dinner parties with food from famous chefs, as well as tickets to Broadway musicals, which are extremely difficult to get. Billy also created the application Magnises Now – a recommendation service for elite youth.

By July 2014, several thousand people became members of the Magnises Club. McFarland said that many remained on the list of pending invitations, because the company decided to preserve the “elitism” of its card. Program participants said that Billy and his project “oversee their social life.”

Billy McFarland at the Magnises Card Presentation
Billy McFarland at the Magnises Card Presentation

However, in January 2017, it turned out that over the three years of operation, many users of the “elite card” faced problems. For example, before concerts of stars like Beyoncé or Adel, members of the club could actually buy tickets at a big discount. However, on the day of the concert, the representatives of Magnises sent a letter that “technical problems” had arisen, due to which it was impossible to get a ticket and get to the concert.

According to users, this happened all the time. They were offered tickets for other dates, but they also had problems. One of the card holders was able to get his ticket after several complaints, however, he found out that someone else’s name was written on it. At the same time, a similar situation for members of Magnises was considered luck: the majority of users did not receive the promised passes to private parties and social events.

Despite the problems, McFarland continued to create new start-ups: in 2015, he introduced the service of travel on private planes Magnises Air. Flights were supposed to deliver customers to the best parties around the world. However, difficulties also arose with them: users could not fly anywhere due to constant transfers.

After that, several hundred people suspended their club memberships, and McFarland focused on the Magnises Now app and other ambitious projects, one of which was the Fyre Festival.

Dream festival

In 2015, Billy met American rapper Jeffrey Atkins, performing under the pseudonym Ja Rule. They quickly became friends and in the same year decided to create a common project Fyre. As conceived by entrepreneurs, the startup was divided into two parts: an application for inviting executives to corporate events and holding an “ultra-luxury festival” for rich youth.

Billy and Ja Rule chose the venue for the event by chance: they had to make an emergency landing on the Bahamian island of Exuma during their flight on a private jet.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Entrepreneurs immediately fell in love with this place, despite the obvious problems with the infrastructure.[/perfectpullquote]

It was difficult to get to the island, and the drinking water had to be delivered through the air. There were also big problems with the sewer network. However, the organizers decided that they would cope. Exuma’s authorities also hoped for this: the local minister of tourism said that everyone “is very happy to welcome such a big festival and its participants.”

The organizers focused on the fact that earlier this island was allegedly owned by the famous drug dealer Pablo Escobar.

In December 2016, business partners announced an event: the festival was to be held from 28 to 30 April and from 5 to 7 May. The Fyre Festival program was impressive. The punk band Blink-182, Major Lazer, Migos, GOOD Music members and the British duo of Disclosure DJs were supposed to perform on the main stage for the “millenial elite”. At other venues promised concerts of several dozen lesser-known electronic musicians and rappers.

In all the interviews, McFarland and Ja Rule emphasized the exclusivity and elitism of the event. The cost of regular tickets started from 1.5 thousand dollars, and entrepreneurs also made special fares for people arriving on their own yachts. For 40 thousand dollars a group of eight people got the opportunity to live in the “Artist’s Palace” with the musicians.

Meals for all visitors should have been prepared by world-famous chefs. Billy and Ja Rule also promised expensive prizes for participating in contests: jewelry, tickets and equipment. The total amount of gifts, businessmen said, will exceed one million dollars.

To advertise the festival, the organizers attracted famous Instagram models and stars with millions of followers: Emily Rataykovsky, Bella Hadid, Hayley Baldwin, Hanna Ferguson and many others. McFarland brought them on private planes and gathered together on the Bahamas island. Initially, the girls did not say that they are advertising the new festival: they just one day posted their photos on the social network from the place where the event will take place.

Later, sister Kim Kardashian Kendall Jenner invited everyone to the Fyre Festival, making it even more famous. Many have concluded that the special guest of the festival will be Kanye West, who founded the label GOOD Music.

@haileybaldwin @emrata @rose_bertram @bellahadid

The advertisement worked: by April 2017, most of the tickets were sold out.

Big building instead of paradise

However, at the time of the announcement, the McFarland project had already encountered serious problems. According to many organizers who told about the difficulties of publishing the Vice, by the winter they already knew that the festival might not take place. But they continued to work, hoping for good luck.

As a result, the organizers did not have enough money even for the most necessary things for people to live: for example, to provide visitors with toilets and showers. Here the problem of the poor infrastructure of the island, which Billy and Ja Rule decided not to worry about, made itself felt. They could not bring and install their equipment: they did not even have the necessary equipment to unload their belongings from the ship to the shore. Logistics difficulties could not be solved all winter, although by this time most of the tickets for the Fyre Festival had already been bought.

On March 14, Chloe Gordon arrived in the Bahamas, who had been appointed producer of the festival shortly before. Later she told about the level of his organization. According to her, it was already clear then that if the festival was not postponed, it would turn into a complete disaster.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]I was excited. During the flight, the water looked great – but I was forbidden to approach it from behind the sharks. When we landed, I immediately went to evaluate our assets. And my first reaction was: “Hmm.”[/perfectpullquote]


Chloe Gordon, festival organizer

Instead of a heavenly place, Gordon saw a construction site with a pile of gravel and tractors. At the same time, it was clear that there was not enough space for the required number of tents: by that time the project creators had already abandoned wooden VIP-rooms. Chloe was supposed to deal directly with concerts, but she was given a team of “11 newcomers” who had no experience at the festival. In this case, all the staff in a conversation with her constantly asked: “Do you know where our money is?”

According to Gordon, some organizers offered to postpone the event to 2018. However, at the meeting, Ja Rule urged the employees not to complain, but “Just do it and become legends”. “To be honest, we were standing on an empty career, and no one had any idea how to build a festival village on it from scratch,” the producer admitted.

In March, Macfarland ran out of money for the festival, although initially he received investments and sponsorship contracts. At a meeting with one of the potential investors in New York, he hinted that he had spent several million dollars on advertising the event with the help of models. According to Vice, only one post Kendall Jenner could manage the organizer of 250 thousand dollars. Eight million more went to the Exum authorities to “encourage the Fyre Festival.”

According to Billy, now he needed money to “pay suppliers, employees and musicians.” At some point, the organizers lost their site: its creators have not received money for their work.

Already in April, they turned to one company to install portable toilet cabins, but received the answer: “Money from the whole world will not help you to get them through customs on time, it will take many weeks.” Even if Billy and Ja Rule could negotiate with the customs service, they would have to pay more than a million dollars to install the equipment. Before the festival there was less than a month.

Elite with mattresses and sandwiches

April 27, the day before the festival, the group Blink-182 announced that it would not perform in the Bahamas. The musicians explained their decision by the fact that they are not sure of the “quality of performance” due to problems with the necessary equipment. By this time, the festival guests have already begun to complain in social networks that they can not fly to the Exum area from Miami. By night most of the flights from the USA were simply canceled.

Those who managed to get to Fyre Festival were even less fortunate: they found an island with unfinished buildings and tents instead of luxurious rooms for rich youth. They did not even have beds. Users compared the festival village with refugee camps.

Also at the music festival was not a single musician.

“The festival is a complete disaster. Mass chaos. No organization. No one knows where to go. And there are no villas, only a terrible tent city ”

“These are lockers at the festival. They forgot to tell us that we need locks. ”
Instead of “food from the best chefs in the world,” the festival participants received sandwiches and container dishes from local residents. Later it turned out that the famous cook Steven Starr was not paid, but the guests were not warned about this.

“One of the canteens at the festival”

“This is our dinner that we were given. Slices of bread, cheese and salad “

Hundreds of people attempted to leave the island, but they were disembarked from the plane and “kept in a stuffy room” almost all night. By this time, the creators of Fyre Festival have already admitted defeat and sent guests a letter about the cancellation of the event.

The organizers in the official statement stated that they were confident of their readiness, but then the arrival of the guests turned into a disaster for them. The event’s website noted that all participants will be reimbursed for tickets. Ja Rule in his twitter stressed that the festival was “not a hoax,” and the rapper himself was not to blame for anything.

McFarland noted that they were “slightly naive” when they thought that they could turn an island with poor infrastructure into a venue for a festival for the “elite”. In this case, the entrepreneur complained about the bad weather on the day of arrival of guests.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]On the day of the festival a storm tore off half of our tents. The guests began to arrive, and we could not do the most necessary actions that we did not worry about in the USA. We were in a hurry. And we just did not have enough foresight to solve these problems.[/perfectpullquote]
Billy McFarland, festival organizer

Apologies brought and Tourism Minister of the Bahamas, and the accusing organizers of the festival in the disruption of an important event. According to the official, in the area of ​​Exum there is a good infrastructure, and Billy and Ja Rul simply could not use it.

In The New York Post noted that there were people who liked the event. They were rich owners of yachts: they did not live in tents, but at the same time they took free food, which was distributed to guests. True, they had to get to the coast in lifeboats.

“SUPPLEMENT: Our flights are scheduled for 12 and o’clock. Are the drinks complimentary. It’s 30 degrees, so we had a beach party. ”

However, most of the stars did not attend the festival: their agents had warned in advance about the problems on the island. Did not come and Ja Rule, who created the Fyre Festival.

One year will be better

Already on May 1, Billy and Ja Rule were sued. They were accused of “lack of necessary food, water, shelter and medical care” in the one hundred millionth lawsuit. The statement notes that the guests flew in from Miami and “suddenly found themselves on a desert island” instead of a music festival.

On May 3, a second lawsuit was filed against businessmen , this time for improper advertising. Part of the Instagram models and stars involved in the campaign in the Bahamas did not mark their publications as “sponsored”, which violates the rules of the US Federal Trade Commission. According to lawyers, the organizers deceived the guests, showing them a heavenly place where they can meet and chat with famous girls.

Some models apologized for their participation in advertising: Kendall Jenner deleted a message praising the festival, Bella Hadid apologized on Twitter, and model Amanda Riley even wrote a column in The Hollywood Reporter, saying her participation was a mistake.

At the same time, McFarland is already making plans for 2018 – instead of returning money, ticket holders are offered to exchange them for VIP invitations, with the help of which you can visit Fyre Festival next spring.