Indeed, the 2017 festival-that-wasn't has left a trail of lawsuits, criminal charges and dramatic documentaries in its wake.
McFarland, who organized and promoted the event, pled guilty in 2018 to two counts of wire fraud related to the festival. He was sentenced to six years in prison and three on probation for engaging in what prosecutors described as "multiple fraudulent schemes" and making false statements to law enforcement.
McFarland and his company, Fyre Media, have faced some dozen lawsuits in the festival's aftermath. As NPR reported in 2018:
McFarland had hawked a "life-changing," paradisiacal music festival for well-heeled patrons intended to take place in the Bahamas in late April and early May 2017. Instead, the festival—which carried ticket prices of up to $12,000 apiece—collapsed in chaos, launching a parade of #dumpsterfyre jokes and scads of schadenfreudic social media commentary, as hopeful festival-goers and vendors alike realized that they had been bilked.
Organizers offered an apology in the immediate wake of the event, admitting it "fell dramatically short of even the most modest expectations" and providing a form attendees could fill out to apply for a refund.
But for many, a refund was not enough.
The original class-action suit was filed in April 2017 against Fyre Media, McFarland and rapper Ja Rule, who was advertised as the festival's co-founder, and sought $100 million in damages. The plaintiff is named as Daniel Jung, acting individually and as a representative of "a class of similarly-situated persons."
The 21-page complaint said refunds were inadequate, writing, "Class Members' damages in being lured to a deserted island and left to fend for themselves—a situation tantamount to false imprisonment—exceed the face value of their ticket packages by many orders of magnitude."
It accuses organizers of knowingly lying about the festival's accommodations and safety, reaching out to celebrities and performers to discourage them from coming while continuing to sell ticket packages, which started at $1,200.
The festival was promoted—including by many social media influencers—as a posh musical festival on a private island once owned by drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, complete with luxurious accommodations and first-class culinary experiences.
Instead, attendees arrived to find unsecured FEMA tents, widely panned food rations and no festival or medical staff to offer assistance. The island was neither private nor formerly owned by Escobar, attorneys noted.