×

Promoter of Disastrous Fyre Music Festival Sentenced to Six Years in Prison

The festival from hell has resulted in its organizer going to jail. The 2017 Fyre Festival in the Bahamas was the ultimate example of everything that could go wrong with a music event actually going much, much worse — and now Billy McFarland, its promoter, has been sentenced to six years in prison.

The sentence was pronounced by a federal judge in Manhattan Thursday. Attorneys for McFarland, 26, had asked for leniency after he pleaded guilty to separate charges of defrauding investors and running a bogus ticket-selling business earlier this year, saying their client suffered untreated mental illness involving delusions about “fame and fortune.” Prosecutors had argued for a longer sentence, calling McFarland “the consummate con artist” in a sentencing memorandum, and described him as remorseless, although defense attorneys said he had “unequivocally acknowledged” committing fraud.

Judge Naomi Buchwald presided over the case in the U.S. Southern District Court and referred to McFarland as “a serial fraudster” in sentencing.

No musical performances ever took place at the would-be festival in April of last year, even after passholders who’d paid from $1,200 into six figures arrived at the site on the island of Great Exuma and found themselves stranded. What little infrastructure they found before making their escapes was the opposite of the promised “first-class culinary experiences and luxury atmosphere.” Co-founder Ja Rule, who was doing an unrelated performance in the U.S. at the time, apologetically tweeted in the midst of the disaster that he was “heartbroken,” that the event was “not a scam as everyone is reporting,” and noted that this was “NOT MY FAULT.”

Investors in Fyre suffered $24 million in losses, it was revealed in court.

Ja Rule was not part of this case but may not be completely off the hook, as he remains named in a class-action civil suit, along with Fyre organizers and investors.

Popular on Variety

More Music

  • Maya Thurman Hawke at the Premiere

    Maya Hawke Debuts Two Singles Ahead of Album Release

    Fresh off her Manson cult role in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Maya Hawke is turning to music. The “Stranger Things” star released two new singles Friday, “To Love a Boy” and “Stay Open,” both of which will appear on her yet-to-be-titled upcoming album. Hawke wrote the lyrics and Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Jesse [...]

  • Woodstock Festival of Arts and Music

    As Woodstock Turns 50, the Fest's 10 Most Sacred Music Moments (Watch)

    Cars were left abandoned along the New York Interstate. Electrical and speaker systems fuzzed and popped. Amps blew then went silent. The rain was endless as the mud sank deep and rank. Young children ran naked and dazed through crowds of strangers. Food was scarce. Water, unclean. Looking back, Woodstock seems a more apocalyptic, than [...]

  • 'ZZ Top: That Little Ol' Band

    Film Review: 'ZZ Top: That Little Ol' Band From Texas'

    Settling in to watch “ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas,” you may have a burning question that applies to almost no other rock documentary, and that is: Who, exactly, are these guys? The ones behind the beards? If you’re old enough, of course, you probably know that ZZ Top started out, in 1969, [...]

  • NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST

    Jay-Z to Acquire Ownership Stake in NFL Team (Report)

    Jay-Z will soon acquire a “significant ownership interest” in an NFL team, TMZ reported on Friday. The team was not disclosed, but a source told the site the deal will happen in the “near future,” adding that the billionaire rapper “wants to continue to be a change agent for the NFL.” Jay-Z’s company, Roc Nation, [...]

  • (L-R) NELL WILLIAMS as Eliza, VIVEIK

    How 'Blinded by the Light' Brought Bruce Springsteen's Music to the Screen for a Song

    Blinded by the Light co-writer/director Gurinder Chadha knows firsthand what it feels like to be an outsider. Born in Kenya when the country was a British colony, she grew up part of the Indian/Asian diaspora who made their way from East Africa to London. For that reason, the 59-year-old’s movies has always dealt with the [...]

  • Blake Shelton, Trace AdkinsCMA Music Festival

    Blake Shelton Takes a Shot at 'Old Town Road' in New Single

    Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins have just released a duet, “Hell Right,” that seems to have a beef with “Old Town Road.” But is it a light-hearted, maybe even affectionate slam — or should anyone read culture-war significance into the two country stars expressing a preference for Hank Williams Jr. over Lil Nas X, the breakout [...]

  • Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven

    Department of Justice Backs Led Zeppelin in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Copyright Case

    The U.S. Department of Justice has weighed in on the next big music copyright case on the horizon following the Katy Perry “Dark Horse” decision, and taken Led Zeppelin’s side in the long-running copyright dispute that pits the writers of the group’s anthem “Stairway to Heaven” against the publishers of the earlier song “Taurus” by [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content