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Fyre Fest founder speaks out after prison release

Billy McFarland, who was jailed in 2018 for his role in the disastrous festival, has opened up on his future plans in a new interview

By James Hanley on 16 Sep 2022

Billy McFarland

Billy McFarland

image © Ian Moran (I to Z Photo + Video)

Fyre Festival founder and convicted fraudster Billy McFarland is planning a comeback following his release from prison.

The 30-year-old received a six-year jail term in 2018 and a US$26 million fine for his role in the notorious festival, pleading guilty to defrauding investors and running a fraudulent ticketing scam.

Fans paid between $1,500 and $50,000 to attend the 2017 festival on the island of Grand Exuma in the Bahamas, with the promise of luxury accommodation, gourmet food and music from acts such as Blink-182, Major Lazer, Pusha T and Disclosure.

However, the event spectacularly collapsed on its first day, as ticket-holders arrived to find half-built tents, insufficient food and a dearth of performers upon arrival.

Fyre Festival was immortalised in two documentaries, Hulu’s Fyre Fraud and Netflix’s Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened, which delved into what went on behind the scenes.

Now, in an interview with New York Times following his early release from prison, McFarland suggests his future lies away from music as he attempts to raise the US$26m he owes to the investors he defrauded.

“I lied. I think I was scared. And the fear was letting down people who believed in me – showing them they weren’t right”

“I’d like to do something tech-based,” says the disgraced entrepreneur. “The good thing with tech is that people are so forward-thinking, and they’re more apt at taking risk. If I worked in finance, I think it would be harder to get back. Tech is more open. And the way I failed is totally wrong, but in a certain sense, failure is OK in entrepreneurship.

“I lied,” he adds, discussing his crimes. “I think I was scared. And the fear was letting down people who believed in me – showing them they weren’t right.

“I deserved my sentence. I let a lot of people down.”

And despite being barred from becoming a company director, McFarland does not rule out starting his own firm.

“At the end of the day, I think I could probably create the most value by building some sort of tech product,” he continued. “Whether that’s within a company or by starting my own company, I’m open to both. I’ll probably decide in the next couple of weeks which path to go do.”


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