Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland has been arrested and released on bail.
The disastrous festival, co-founded by rapper Ja Rule, was axed not long after guests started to arrive at the Great Exuma, Bahamas site in April (17), to find a lack of accommodation and poor facilities.
It was reported in May that U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) employees were investigating the organisers, and 25-year-old McFarland was arrested in New York City on Friday (30Jun17) and charged with one count of federal wire fraud for allegedly defrauding investors in his company Fyre Media.
He was released on Saturday (1Jul17) after a night behind bars, having posted $300,000 (£231,000) bail. He was ordered to move back in with his parents, who watched the court proceedings and live in New Jersey.
As he left the courtroom alone, having been represented by a public defender, Billy did not address members of the media waiting outside.
“I’d love to speak, I’d love to say something,” he said. “We’ll set it up for a better time.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristy Greenberg did, however, release a statement after the Saturday hearing, noting: “It is clear that he (Billy) did not understand the gravity and the severity of the charges until now. He is now forced to face reality.”
U.S. Attorney Joon Kim also released a statement about the charge on Friday: “(McFarland) promised a life-changing music festival, but in actuality delivered a disaster. McFarland allegedly presented fake documents to induce investors to put over a million dollars into his company and the fiasco called the Fyre Festival.”
Ja Rule has not been arrested.
Acts including Migos, Lil Yachty, and Major Lazer had all been slated to play at Fyre Festival. Blink-182 were also set to appear but pulled out after they discovered the chaos surrounding the proposed event.
Ja Rule and McFarland recruited big name celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid to promote the festival, with ticketholders paying up to $12,000 (£9,000).
In the days following the Fyre Festival’s cancellation, Ja Rule issued a personal apology, but deflected blame.
“I’m heartbroken at this moment,” he wrote in a Twitter message. “My partners and I wanted this to be an amazing event. It was NOT A SCAM. I truly apologize as this is NOT MY FAULT… but I’m taking responsibility. I’m deeply sorry to everyone who was inconvenienced by this.”