A party promoted by models on a deserted island? What could possibly go wrong
FYRE Festival co-founders Ja Rule and Billy McFarland have been hit with a $US100 million ($133 million) lawsuit that calls the debacle a “get-rich-quick scam from the very beginning,” court papers claim.
The disastrous Bahamas extravaganza lacked adequate food, water, shelter and medical care, creating a “dangerous and panicked situation among attendees” — who threw down between $US1200 ($1600) to $US100,000 ($133,000) for tickets, according to the class action suit filed on Sunday in California federal court, The New York Post reports.
“Festival-goers survived on bare rations, little more than bread and a slice of cheese, and tried to escape the elements in the only shelters provided by defendants: small clusters of ‘FEMA tents,’ exposed on a sandbar, that were soaked and battered by wind rain,” the suit says.
Despite knowing they were “dangerous under-equipped” and that the festival “posed a serious danger,” McFarland and Ja Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, allegedly still continued to promote the event and sell tickets — even billing it as being held on a private island once owned by drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, the suit claims.
“The island isn’t private, as there is a Sandals resort down the road, and Pablo Escobar never owned the island,” the complaint says.
The suit also accuses McFarland and Ja Rule of personally reaching out to A-listers in advance — Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski and Bella Hadid were among the promoters — to warn them not to attend.
Fyre Festival was only cancelled on the morning of the first day “after thousands of attendees had already arrived and were stranded, without food, water, or shelter,” the suit says.
Participants were also largely without cash to get around the island because the festival was promoted as a “cashless” event that allowed funds to be loaded onto wristbands instead.
#hehehe RT @WNFIV: Expectation vs. Reality#fyre #fyrefestival pic.twitter.com/cGpJi6AgDL
— Mary Burk (@marymess) April 29, 2017
The dinner that @fyrefestival promised us was catered by Steven Starr is literally bread, cheese, and salad with dressing. #fyrefestival pic.twitter.com/I8d0UlSNbd
— Tr3vor (@trev4president) April 28, 2017
The lawsuit was filed by Mark Geragos on behalf of plaintiff Daniel Jung, of Los Angeles, who bought a ticket package and airfare for $US2000 ($2600).
Geragos’ former clients include Michael Jackson, Chris Brown and Winona Ryder.
The suit seeks damages in excess of $US100,000 ($133,000) because plaintiffs’ “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 was literally like The Hunger Games.” #FyreFestival attendee describes scene of disarray at festival site: https://t.co/6QPhBkMlSJ pic.twitter.com/240u9gKisQ
— Good Morning America (@GMA) May 1, 2017
In an interview with The New York Post last Friday, McFarland blamed the chaotic festival conditions on a freak storm — and insisted there was “plenty of food and water” on site.
“We sent guest pictures of the tents and told them if they weren’t happy we would refund them,” McFarland said.
Ja Rule tweeted an apology, saying he was “relieved to share that all guest [sic] are safe, and have been sent the form to apply for a refund. Our deepest apologies.”
Relieved to share that all guest are safe, and have been sent the form to apply for a refund. Our deepest apologies… #fyrefestival
— Ja Rule (@Ruleyork) April 30, 2017
— Ja Rule (@Ruleyork) April 28, 2017
A self-styled luxury music festival in the Bahamas? Exuma islands turned to disaster on April 27, the first day of the event, as attendees were met by scenes of mass chaos and disorganization. People who made it to Fyre Festival, which had been promoted by Kendall Jenner and Ja Rule, and with a video featuring bikini-clad models, shared images that appeared to show half-built tents, a ramshackle catering system, and organizers dropping attendees? luggage out of a shipping container. Organizers on Thursday, April 27, told festival-goers that due to circumstances beyond their control, ?all inbound charter flights to the Exumas have been canceled,? adding that refunds would be issued. The same day, deadline act Blink-182 cancelled their appearance, tweeting: ?We?re not confident that we would have what we need to give you the quality of performances we always give our fans.? Many of those who had made it to the festival began trying to leave, sparking chaos at Exuma International Airport. Airport officials were said to have closed the doors, locking passengers indoors with no food or water as they waited to fly out. One man was said to have fainted due to the heat at the airport, according to eyewitnesses. Janan Buisier, who shot this video, wrote: ?People are scared. This festival put people in danger.? A statement on the Fyre website said the festival was postponed. ?Due to circumstances out of our control, the physical infrastructure was not in place on time and we are unable to fulfill on that vision safely and enjoyably for our guests,? the statement said. The Bahamas Ministry for Tourism also issued a statement on April 28, saying it was ?extremely disappointed? with the turn of events, offering a ?heartfelt apology to all who traveled? to the country. It said visitors ?were met with total disorganization and chaos.? The ministry added that while it was not an official sponsor of the festival, it had offered organizers advice and some assistance. ?The event organizers assured us that all measures were taken to ensure a safe and successful event but clearly they did not have the capacity to execute an event of this scale,? the ministry said. Credit: Twitter/Janan Buisier via Storyful
This story originally appeared in The New York Post and has been republished here with permission.