Fyre Festival was a “luxury music festival” created with the intent of promoting the Fyre music booking app. The event was promoted on Instagram by “social media influencers” including socialite and model Kendall Jenner, model Bella Hadid, model and actress Emily Ratajkowski, and other media personalities, many of whom did not initially disclose they had been paid to do so.
I’m The models and so-called social influencers promoted what was billed as a VIP music festival on an island in the Bahamas, helping to generate buzz and sell tickets to the 2018 event. Kendall Jenner was paid $275,000 to promote the event and has since deleted the post.
During the Fyre Festival’s inaugural weekend, the event experienced problems related to security, food, accommodations and artist relations resulting in the festival being postponed indefinitely. Instead of the luxury villas and gourmet meals festival attendees paid thousands of dollars for, they received prepackaged sandwiches and FEMA tents as their accommodations.
As a result, the organizers are the subject of at least eight lawsuits, several seeking class action status, and one seeking more than $100 million in damages. The cases accuse the organizers of defrauding ticket buyers. On June 30, 2017, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York charged Billy McFarland, CEO of Fyre Media Inc. with one count of wire fraud.
In March 2018, he pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud to defraud investors and a second count to defraud a ticket vendor. On October 11, 2018, McFarland was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to forfeit US $26 million.