Tech entrepreneur Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule are under some serious scrutiny this weekend after their joint venture, Fyre Festival, turned in to a nightmare for festival goers in the Bahamas.
The arts and music festival promised the who’s-who of jet-setters and celebs promised attendees luxurious accommodations and a bevy of other treats including gourmet pop ups, live music and rubbing shoulders with supermodels. As we reported earlier, it was anything but what was promised.
At prices ranging from $3-12,000.00, the attendees wound up finding themselves on a remote island in Fyre Cay in the Exumas (Bahamas) in what some described as “tent city” overran by garbage, rats and wet mattresses.
But was it a scam, or simply the result of inexperience, bad planning and bad weather?
In a full statement released on Friday, McFarland stated that there were problems from the beginning and that they found themselves in over their heads with the infrastructure and logistics.
Even though full refunds have been promised, some are wary that this was a scam to prey upon the wealthy. Ja Rule insists that the living, breathing disaster was NOT a scam.
“It’s no exaggeration to say this is the worst day of my life,” McFarland stated. “We need to take things in order and make sure everything is alright and then take care of next year and make sure its better.”
More from LA Times:
After a day of memes and negative press about the massive disaster that greeted music fans arriving in the Bahamas for the first-ever Fyre Festival — unfinished grounds, lack of promised accommodations, no luggage, no beer, food better suited for an elementary school sleep-away camp and the cancelation of one headliner — the organizers are offering an explanation and apology for the now-canceled event.
Hyped as “the cultural experience of the decade,” the festival was supposed to launch the first of two consecutive weekends Friday on a remote island in Fyre Cay in the Exumas, a string of islands in the Bahamas. Blink-182, Disclosure, Kaytranada, Migos, Rae Sremmurd, Tyga, Desiigner, Pusha T., Major Lazer and two dozen other artists and surprise-guest headliners spanning a myriad of genres were promised.
But the festival, co-created by Ja Rule and entrepreneur Billy McFarland and promoted by Fyre Media Inc. — collapsed into disarray on Thursday as guests began to arrive for the event, which was expecting 6,000 to 7,000 people. (Read our full breakdown here.)
As images of collapsed tents instead of plush villas and trash-strewn grounds started to go viral on social media, organizers canceled the festival at the last minute and frustrated guests blasted the entire event as a fraud.
Late Friday, after the festival bore the brunt of some intense scrutiny, McFarland offered a full explanation.
Here’s what went wrong, in his own words, as sent directly from festival organizers:
“Today was a very challenging day for all of us. But we would like to fully explain what happened.
“Billy McFarland and Ja Rule started a partnership over a mutual interest in technology, the ocean, and rap music. This unique combination of interests led them to the idea that, through their combined passions, they could create a new type of music festival and experience on a remote island.
“They simply weren’t ready for what happened next, or how big this thing would get. They started by making a website and launching a viral campaign. Ja helped book talent, and they had hundreds of local Bahamians join in the effort. Suddenly, they found themselves transforming a small island and trying to build a festival. Thousands of people wanted to come. They were excited, but then the roadblocks started popping up.
“As amazing as the islands are, the infrastructure for a festival of this magnitude needed to be built from the ground up. So, we decided to literally attempt to build a city. We set up water and waste management, brought an ambulance from New York, and chartered 737 planes to shuttle our guests via 12 flights a day from Miami. We thought we were ready, but then everyone arrived.
“The team was overwhelmed. The airport was jam-packed. The buses couldn’t handle the load. And the wind from rough weather took down half of the tents on the morning our guests were scheduled to arrive. This is an unacceptable guest experience and the Fyre team takes full responsibility for the issues that occurred.
At the time of this writing, there are no known charges that have been filed against the organizers.
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