The promise of a celebration called Fyre Festival - two weekends of exclusive appearances from the hottest celebrities and most prominent performers - consistently graced the screens of many who are active on social media. Online influencers as well as influential figures in pop culture like Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner showed their faces in ads that promoted the festival. Tickets priced between $1,200 and $200,000 were marketed as a festival attendees paradise, including luxurious hotels right next to a Caribbean beach and expensive cuisine. Those who could afford the costly tickets were affirmed that they would be living lavishly in plush accommodations once owned by Pablo Escobar. But when festival-goers got to the island, they were unpleasantly surprised. Several groups are now seeking damages from the parties responsible for organizing the event.
While attendees expected world-class cuisine and entertainment, they were presented with a desolate island without “adequate food, water, shelter, and basic medical care,” one of the lawsuits filed by a visitor stated. Visitors described the island as “total chaos”, claiming that there were no communal bathrooms or showers, guests were given cheese sandwiches for food, and they were forced to sleep in tents with wet blankets at the end of the day. They recall that there were no basic amenities like soap, shampoo or electricity in sight. Other concert-goers complained of bug infestations, blood-stained mattresses and a lack of air conditioning.
As of now, six lawsuits have been filed against festival organizers, Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule, and festival public relations agency, 42West LLC. These suits labeled the festival as a “Ponzi scheme” in which consumers were considered “unwitting pawns.” Each lawsuit contains a different horror story of what attendees experienced when they arrived at the island. One plaintiff suffered a medical emergency after being locked inside a building waiting to be airlifted from the island. But the lawsuits had one common trend, that all organizing parties had no intentions of actually throwing the festival. They argue that the organizers had plans to scam wealthy millennials out of tickets since they began marketing.
Articles posed questions regarding whether Fyre organizers ever had the capital necessary to host a music festival of this magnitude. One plaintiff named Kenneth Reel sent an email to the organizers that soon went viral. He claims that the “private island” repeatedly mentioned in ads was not even an actual island, and that organizers and marketers were aware of this fact.
“Marketing the event to be held on a private island when in fact, it will take place on a defunct landholding which is semi-industrial/manmade it extremely misleading,” Reel wrote. “I could continue to dissect your marketing providing several other areas of concern which appear to be clear misrepresentations specifically designed to mislead prospective buyers but we both know the vent is ultimately not what it was marketing as.”
Suspicion has since began to heighten now that cease and desist letters have been sent to people posting derogatory information about the festival. Both Ja Rule and McFarland have been laying low since the situation occurred. Overall, more than $100 million is being sought through legal action.