The chaotic mess that was the Fyre Festival scam was exposed in 2017 and it's still something that people are so shocked actually happened. Let's give you a brief explainer about what went down (literally and figuratively) with the infamous luxury event.
Billy McFarland, business mogul and co-founder of Fyre Festival — a music festival hosted in the Bahamas that cost more than $10,000 to attend — was caught ripping people off up to millions of dollars because of its failure.
The festival that promised artists like Lil Yachty, Migos, Blink-182, and more, as well as glamorous island activities, turned out to be a total rip-off that left ticket buyers fuming with anger and demanding refunds. This trickled into a lawsuit, and ultimately, Billy was found guilty of multiple fraud charges and was sentenced to six years in prison.
Here's what went down — and where Billy is now.
Where is Billy McFarland now?
The unsuccessful and exploitive Fyre Festival scandal occurred in April 2017, but Billy was charged for his crimes associated with the festival and other fraudulent doings (i.e., selling bogus tickets to other big events while out on bail) in 2018. He went on to serve time behind bars at the Federal Correctional Institution in Elkton, Ohio, where he was initially set to be released on Aug. 30, 2023.
During his time in prison, he asked for "compassionate release" in April 2020 order to avoid contracting COVID-19, claiming he had asthma. His request was denied.
He was also sent to solitary confinement twice — once for possessing a recording device (he claimed he was trying to write a book) and then later for participating in a podcast via a wall phone.
Also while behind bars, Billy started a program where people can donate money to help prisoners contact their loved ones. He told the New York Post more about it in April 2020: "I’m launching an initiative called Project-315 to bring together and connect in-need inmates and their families who are affected by coronavirus. We’re going to pay for calls for as many incarcerated people across the country as possible.”
He said he understood that people might think it's all fake, but wanted them to know it wasn't. "It’s totally reasonable that people would think this is a scam. The good thing is, this isn’t for me — it’s for the families of inmates, who are suffering because of what their loved ones did,” he told the Post.
In August 2022, Billy was released from prison early and relocated to a halfway house. His house arrest ended in September 2022.
In August 2023, Billy McFarland officially announced that tickets were on sale for Fyre Festival II.
In April 2023, Billy announced on Twitter that a second Fyre Festival was coming.
"Fyre Festival II is finally happening. Tell me why you should be invited," he wrote.
Later on, in a YouTube video posted on Aug. 20, 2023, Billy announced that tickets were officially on sale for Fyre Festival II.
"This is a big day," he said in the video. "It has been the absolute wildest journey to get here, and it really all started during a seventh-month stint in solitary confinement. I wrote out this 50-page plan of how it would take this overall interest and demand in Fyre and how it would take my ability bring people from around the world together to make the impossible happen."
"But how would I find the best partners in the world to allow me to be me while executing Fyre's vision to the highest level?" he continued. "In my first year I partnered with one of the biggest and best TV companies in the world to produce a documentary called After the Fyre. I've also worked with one of the biggest production companies to sign a deal to produce Fyre Festival: The Broadway Musical."
He went on: "And finally today we are announcing Fyre Festval II. We spoke to peopel as far away as the Middle East and South America and ultimately we decided that Fyre Festival II is coming back to the Caribbean. We are targeting Fyre Festival II for the end of next year. In the meantime we'll be doing pop-ups and events across the world. Guys, this is your chance to get in. This is everything I've been working toward. Let's f---ing go."