Billy McFarland Is Out of Prison After Failed Fyre Festival in Exuma. He Apologizes to Vendors
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Following his recent release from prison, Fyre Festival Founder Billy McFarland is apologizing for defrauding investors and vendors caught up in his failed music festival fiasco that was to be held in Exuma in 2017.
“I need to apologize. And that is the first and the last thing that needs to be done. I let people down. I let down employees. I let down their families. I let down investors. So I need to apologize. I’m wrong and it’s bad.”
McFarland spoke to Good Morning America for the first time since his early release from prison after he pled guilty to two counts of wire fraud and was ordered to pay investors, vendors and concertgoers $26 million in restitution.
Bahamian caterer Maryann Rolle and her husband Elvis were duped into spending more than $50,000 to provide thousands of meals to attendees. After sympathizers watched their story in a Netflix film, the couple was able to recoup nearly $200,000 through Go FundMe.
“I was wrong. I messed up. And I was so driven by this desperate desire to prove people right … I think I was just so insecure that I thought the only way to prove myself to them was to succeed,” McFarland said. “That led me down just this terrible path of bad decisions.”
In April 2017, McFarland along with Ja Rule organized the Fyre Festival, which was originally promoted as a luxurious music event in Exuma, Bahamas. Several celebrities got on board to promote the event including Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid.
But when thousands of concertgoers landed on the island of Exuma, the high-profile music festival was a nightmare. Concertgoers complained of tents stocked with wet mattresses, being served cold food and music acts that never showed up.
“I started lying to get the money and I would literally wake up every day to a document that we called, ‘Urgent Payment Sheet.’ And it had an amount of money that I had to acquire before the bank closed that day to stop the company from going underwater,” he continued. “So I was literally day-by-day doing whatever it took. And looking back, it was so incredibly stupid.”
Hundreds of other local Bahamian workers were duped into working on behalf of McFarland and his doomed event.
It is not known if McFarland reached out to Rolle and other Bahamian vendors since his release from prison.
McFarland is now promoting another event.