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Fyre Festival attendees are set to receive $7,200 each in class-action settlement

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Apr 16, 2021 7:47 pm

Remember the infamous Fyre Festival that promised its attendees two “ultra-luxurious” weekends of the “best food, art, music, and adventure” in the Bahamas that turned out to be a disaster? Its organizers have now reached a settlement with 277 attendees for $7,220 (about P350,000) each.

The $2 million class-action settlement was filed before the US Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York. According to the New York Times, the amount that each ticketholder will receive is still subject to final approval and could ultimately be lower depending on the organizers’ other bankruptcy case.

In 2017, the failed festival was hyped as “the cultural experience of the decade” in the Exuma island in the Bahamas. The festival was aimed at promoting the company’s Fyre music booking app.

Fyre Festival founders Ja Rule and Billy McFarland.

Its founders Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule tapped models and social media influencers like Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Alessandra Ambrosio and Hailey Baldwin to lure partygoers into buying tickets that start from $500 (about P24,000) to $1,500 (about P72,000) for day tickets, to VIP packages that start at $12,000 (about P580,000) and reportedly up to over $100,000 (about P4.8 million).

Its promotional video featured clips of party scenes, models and social media influencers frolicking in the white-sand beaches of the Exumas, enjoying the sapphire blue waters, and exploring the islands aboard a yacht.

'Luxury tents' that welcomed festival attendees were actually leaky FEMA relief tents with mattresses soaked in rain.

Aside from being promised “two transformative weekends” in a remote private island by Pablo Escobar, accommodation in “modern eco-friendly geodesic domes” and “luxury tents,” meals by celebrity chefs, private charter flights from Miami and more, attendees looked forward to catching 33 artists who were set to perform, including headliners Blink-182 and hip-hop act Migos.

But what transpired was a complete and utter disaster, an experience that other attendees who were stranded in the Bahamas on the first weekend of the festival likened to The Hunger Games and The Lord of the Flies.

Chaos ensued when guests arrived at the site of the “remote private island” (which was not owned by Pablo Escobar, as claimed by the organizers), expecting their paid-for luxury accommodations and gourmet food but was met with leaky FEMA relief tents and air mattresses, and cheese sandwiches, which went viral as attendees expressed their disgust by posting pictures on social media with the hashtag #fyrefraud.

What about the artist who were set to perform? As they heard about what’s happening on the site, they pulled out from the festival one by one. A local group of Bahamian musicians reportedly played for a few hours for the guests.

McFarland trying to de-escalate the situation as festivalgoers grew beyond upset.

The festival’s co-founders McFarland and Ja Rule have faced multiple lawsuits against their company, including alleged fraud and breach of contract.

Ja Rule had been cleared from the $100 million class-action lawsuit in 2019. Meanwhile, McFarland was sentenced to six years in federal prison and is currently serving his time at a low-security prison in Lisbon, Ohio.

In January 2019, streaming platforms Hulu (Fyre Fraud) and Netflix (FYRE: The Greatest Party that Never Happened) both released documentaries about the doomed festival.