Fyre Festival founder arrested in New York

Billy McFarland "promised a life-changing music festival, but in actuality delivered a disaster."

One of the men responsible for April’s disastrous Fyre Festival was arrested in New York City on Friday.

Billy McFarland, 25, is charged with wire fraud after allegedly defrauding investors in Fyre Media, his company.

Fyre Festival was a luxury festival in the Bahamas that cost up to $4,000 per person, was supposed to feature acts including Skepta, Migos, Blink-182 and Major Lazer, and was billed as “a cultural moment created from a blend of music, art and food”.


As festival-goers shared personal experiences of the conditions – including lack of running water, proper catering or correct safety protocols – the festival’s lawyers threatened them with legal action. Clips later emerged of McFarland telling festival staff they would not be paid.

Fyre Festival
The site of Fyre Festival, Great Exuma, Bahamas. Credit: PA Wire

Explaining McFarland’s arrest, US Attorney Joon Kim said that he had allegedly shown fake documents to investors to encourage them to put more than $1 million into both Fyre Media and Fyre Festival. Ja Rule, the company’s co-founder, has not been arrested.

“McFarland allegedly presented fake documents to induce investors to put over a million dollars into his company and the fiasco called the Fyre Festival,” Kim said. He added that McFarland had “promised a life-changing music festival, but in actuality delivered a disaster.”

The maximum sentence the 25-year-old could face for his charge of wire fraud is 20 years in prison.