These photos reveal why the 26-year-old organizer of the disastrous Fyre Festival has been sentenced to 6 years in prison

Alessandra Ambrosio was featured in the festival's promo video.

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Alessandra Ambrosio was featured in the festival’s promo video.
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YouTube/Fyre Festival

  • Billy McFarland, who organized last year’s Fyre Festival, was sentenced to six years in prison on Thursday and has been ordered to forfeit $26 million.
  • McFarland pleaded guilty in March to wire-fraud charges in relation to Fyre Festival, which instantly became infamous after hundreds of attendees were left stranded in the Bahamas last year.
  • In June, McFarland was arrested again on charges of selling fake tickets through a different company, called NYC VIP Access, starting in late 2017. He pleaded guilty to those charges in July.
  • Here’s a look back at what happened at Fyre Festival.

Billy McFarland, the 26-year-old founder of the nightmarish Fyre Festival that left hundreds of attendees stranded in the Bahamas last year, was sentenced to six years in prison on Thursday and faces a $26 million forfeiture order.

“The remorse I feel is crushing,” McFarland said during his sentencing on Thursday, Vice News reported. “I lived every day with the weight of knowing that I literally destroyed the lives of my friends and family.”

According to Vice, victims of his scams also testified against him. One investor, Joe Nemeth, said McFarland had “financially ruined” his and his wife’s lives.

“It took me 20 years of saving my lunch money to save $180,000,” Nemeth said in court, according to Vice. “I hope the justice system has the last laugh at Mr. McFarland.”

McFarland had been awaiting sentencing since pleading guilty in March to wire-fraud charges in relation to Fyre Festival.

In July, he pleaded guilty to charges in a separate fraudulent scheme in which he sold tickets to exclusive events such as the 2018 Met Gala, Burning Man, Coachella, the Grammy Awards, and the Super Bowl through a company called NYC VIP Access starting in late 2017.

Fyre Festival, which promised attendees a VIP experience when they set off to Great Exuma in the Bahamas, turned into a nightmare as they encountered delayed flights, half-built huts to sleep in, and cold cheese sandwiches to eat.

Here’s what happened at Fyre Festival:


The three-day party was supposed to be on a private beach on the island of Great Exuma in the Bahamas.

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YouTube/Fyre Festival

It was supposed to be over two weekends in 2017: April 28-30 and May 5-7.

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YouTube/Fyre Festival

It was described as an “immersive music festival.”

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YouTube/FyreFestival

A host of supermodels had promoted it on social media, including Hailey Baldwin, Emily Ratajkowski, and Bella Hadid.

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YouTube/Fyre Festival

Guests expected to party on white-sand beaches.

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YouTube/Fyre Festival

But when they turned up, it didn’t look anything like the advertisements.


Fans were expecting to see Blink-182 perform.

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YouTube/Fyre Festival

But the band dropped out before the festival started.


Festivalgoers were promised luxury, eco-friendly domes and villas to stay in that were included in the ticket prices. But one guest described it as a "disaster tent city."


Some of the tents hadn't been put up.


Instead of partying on the beach with friends ...

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YouTube/Fyre Festival

... guests were trying to fly back to Miami.

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Twitter/@WNFIV

But for some, that wasn't possible, and they ended up stranded in the airport.

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Twitter/@WNFIV

One guest said she was kept in a room without food or water, waiting for a flight to take off. She said a person fainted because the conditions were so bad.

Source: Hollywood Reporter


Images of the festival made the rounds on social media and were widely reported across global news organizations. This left many wondering whether it had damaged the reputation of the Bahamas altogether.

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Great Exuma in the Bahamas.
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YouTube/FyreFestival

Locals told Mic earlier this year that tourism had not been affected by the event. However, some resort owners who provided food or services for the festival said they were still awaiting payment.

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YouTube/Fyre Festival

Source: Mic


In March, McFarland pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud.


He was arrested again on June 12 in a separate fraud case. He was charged with earning $100,000 from selling fake tickets to events including Coachella and the Met Gala through a company called NYC VIP Access.

Prosecutors said McFarland began running the business late last year, several months after he was arrested on charges that he had defrauded investors out of $26 million.


On June 19, a judge revoked his bail, deeming him a flight risk.

Source: Page Six


In July, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that McFarland, two companies he founded (Fyre Media and Magnises), a former senior executive, and a former contractor had agreed to settle charges against them.

Grant Margolin, McFarland's chief marketing officer, agreed to a seven-year director-and-officer ban and would pay a $35,000 penalty, the SEC said.

It also said Daniel Simon, an independent contractor for McFarland's companies, agreed to a three-year ban and would pay over $15,000 in disgorgement and penalty.


Later that month, McFarland pleaded guilty to one count of fraud related to the NYC VIP Access ticket scheme.

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Magnises

He also pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud for writing a check with the name and account number of one of his employees without authorization.


Before his sentencing in October, McFarland's attorney, Randall Jackson, asked the judge to give him a lighter sentence, citing a psychiatrist report that said he was diagnosed with a bipolar-related disorder.

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McFarland and Ja Rule at the MusicNotes Conference in November 2016.
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MusicNotes Conf/Facebook

Jackson said McFarland had "delusional beliefs of having special and unique talents that will lead to fame and fortune," The Associated Press reported.


On October 11, McFarland was sentenced to six years in prison.

"The remorse I feel is crushing," he said during his sentencing, Vice News reported. "I lived every day with the weight of knowing that I literally destroyed the lives of my friends and family."


Here's the full Fyre Festival promo video: