Ben Meiselas wasn’t just a central figure in the class-action cases against the disastrous 2017 Fyre Festival — he’s also a star of both the Hulu and Netflix documentaries of the event. For anyone who doesn’t know, the Fyre Festival was advertised as a luxury event with gourmet chefs on a beautiful island where Migos, Blink-182 and others would perform. Instead, all it offered was flimsy tents, boxed lunches and no music, once the performers heard that the festival had become a fiasco. As he details below, Meiselas and his boss, attorney Mark Geragos, got involved as soon as outraged reports about the festival began emerging — and ultimately organizer Billy McFarland was found guilty of wire fraud and is currently serving a six-year prison sentence. In recalling the sequence of events, Meiselas almost sounds like he’s recapping a triumphant football game.
APRIL 29, 2017
“The festival was supposed to start on Friday. Mark and I were at a conference in Las Vegas, and we got a call on Saturday from people saying that the festival had been postponed, and they were trapped on the island [unable to get flights out]. They said they were getting cease-and-desist letters saying that if they told people or posted on social media that they were trapped, they would be sued.
“Mark and I realized that active fraud was going on, so we dropped what we were doing and drafted the complaint that day. I dictated it to an associate who came in on Saturday specifically to deal with it, and it’s actually a really great legal document — it has pictures of the cheese sandwiches and tents [which the attendees received instead gourmet food and luxury accommodations], going through the fraud, explaining what they said would happen as opposed to what actually did.”
APRIL 30, 2017
“We filed the class action on Sunday, I flew back to Los Angeles and wrote the press release about the [lawsuit] in an Uber on my way to a concert by The Weeknd, and filed it from my phone. I still remember my phone buzzing like crazy in my pocket as I was sitting there watching the show. The complaint went as viral as the news about the event — no one had really filed a class-action like that, against a phony festival.”
“Within four or five days we had all this whistle-blower information that [Fyre] was also a financial fraud, so we amended the complaint to be clear it was a criminal enterprise. The FBI came in shortly thereafter and engaged in a full-fledged criminal investigation, and now [chief Fyre executive] Billy McFarland is in prison.”