Fyre Festival merch to be auctioned off to benefit scammed victims
The disastrous event Fyre Festival took place in 2017, but now the festival is being forced to auction off merchandise to cover legal fees.
According to Vulture, a United States Marshals Service (USMS) representative has confirmed that two boxes of Fyre Festival merch will be used to help repay the USD$26 million that organizer Billy McFarland, who is currently serving a six-year prison sentence for multiple counts wire fraud, owes in damages.
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“We have an assortment of the ‘real thing’ Fyre Festival-branded tee-shirts, sweatpants, sweatshirts, hats, wristbands and medallions,” the spokesperson said. “We know that there is tremendous interest in these items in the NY metro area in particular.”
The representative continued, “The USMS will dispose (or sell) the Fyre merchandise in the most efficient, cost-effective way in the best interests of the U.S. government. We utilize our contracted partners to handle the marketing and sale and it will be an online auction.”
Information as to when the auction will take place has yet to be released.
Fyre Festival was billed as an ultra-luxurious music festival set against a tropical Bahamian backdrop but descended into abject chaos.
People complained of spending thousands of dollars on tickets and travel to the Exuma islands in the Bahamas for what were supposed to be performances by Blink-182, Pusha-T, Migos, Disclosure and Major Lazer.
Event organizers blamed “unforeseen and extenuating circumstances” in a Twitter post in April 2017. They said they were working to arrange flights to Miami for those who had already arrived in Exuma and said inbound flights had been cancelled.
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The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism offered an apology to Fyre attendees who had traveled for the event, saying in a statement that “tourism is our number one industry” and that they were “extremely disappointed” in the way the festival had unfolded.
The concert, organized by rapper Ja Rule and entrepreneur McFarland, had promised “a cultural moment created from a blend of music, art, and food.” Tickets ranged between $1,000-$12,000 — and some VIP packages as high as $250,000 — with amenities that included private plane and boat rentals, massages, and local beach tours.
Fyre Festival had promised “culinary delights and luxury” over two weekends. Attendees complained about disorganization and accommodations in social media posts.
McFarland is currently serving a six-year jail sentence for wire fraud. Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald called him a “serial fraudster.”
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He admitted to defrauding investors of $26 million in the 2017 music festival and over $100,000 in a fraudulent ticket-selling scheme after his arrest in the festival scam.
Buchwald said McFarland deserved a long prison term because he disrespected the criminal justice system by lying to law enforcement agents when they learned about the ticket-selling business.
Speaking in a courtroom packed with friends, family and at least one victim, McFarland apologized as family members cried behind him.
He said he hit rock bottom and plans to become a better person.
McFarland used investor funds to bankroll a lavish lifestyle including living in a Manhattan penthouse apartment, partying with celebrities, and traveling by private plane and chauffeured luxury cars, the Securities and Exchange Commission said.
— With files from the Associated PressFollow @KatieScottNews
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