A hearing is set for May 13 to approve the settlement for the class action ticket holders.
The festival, which was conceived by McFarland and his business partner, hip-hop artist Jeffrey Atkins (a.k.a. Ja Rule), was billed as a “unique destination concert experience in the Caribbean aimed at young millennials and featuring a number of top musical acts.” It was scheduled to take place over two weekends in April and May 2017 in Exumas, Bahamas, with tickets costing between $1,000 and $12,00, according to Meiselas.
In addition to the festival, which was billed as having “the greatest talents in the world,” there was also going to be a weeklong treasure hunt, as well as “immersive” art and theater and informative discussions with “some of the brightest minds in the world.” The event was also widely promoted on social media by influencers who were paid over $2.25 million, including Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski and Kendall Jenner — the latter of whom was paid $275,000 for a single post, according to the legal complaint.
While attendees were promised luxury accommodations and gourmet food, they instead were given FEMA disaster relief tents to stay in and were fed cheese sandwiches in Styrofoam containers. Instead of an epic festival, their time on the island was filled with “disorganization and chaos.” None of the musical guests performed, and the festival was canceled the morning after many ticket holders had already arrived.
This isn’t the first judgement issued against McFarland over the festival. In 2018, two North Carolina residents each obtained $1.5 million in compensatory damages, plus an additional $1 million in punitive damages, for a total award of $5 million after each spent about $13,000 on VIP packages, according to their attorney Stacy Miller. And in September, the trustee overseeing the bankruptcy of McFarland’s Fyre Media secured settlements regarding payments to artists such as Blink-182, Tyga, Pusha T and Major Lazer who had been scheduled to perform at the event, reclaiming some of the funds paid.
For his part, McFarland was sentenced to six years in prison on Oct. 11, 2018 for fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud investors, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. He is currently being held in at a federal facility in Oklahoma City and is scheduled to be released Aug. 30, 2023.