Billy McFarland, the disgraced organizer behind the doomed Fyre Festival, has spoken out from prison to claim he’d have been able to arrange the event he promised investors if he had a ‘more realistic timeline’.
McFarland is not expected to be released from prison until August 2023.
In an interview with podcaster Jordan Harbinger (of the Jordan Harbinger Show) that will is featured as part of ABC’s The Con on Wednesday night, he admits he defrauded investors, but says his problem was thinking he’d be able to put the festival together in just six months.
McFarland and rapper Ja Rule obtained millions in investment with the promise of putting on a first-of-its-kind, luxury music festival event in The Bahamas with models, DJs, luxury dwellings and extravagant meals.
They paid models like Kendall Jenner to promote the event on Instagram and blasted seduction promo videos and pictures to lure people into buying tickets.
Thousands took the bait and hopped on planes from New York City and Miami.
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Billy McFarland is due to be released from prison in 2023. In jailhouse podcast interviews, he says he still thinks he could have pulled Fyre Festival off if he had more time
McFarland with some of his friends in prison. He says he knowingly lied to investors but thought he could ‘dig himself out of a hole’
When they arrived in The Bahamas, they found their luxury dwellings were hurricane tents. The gastronomical delights they’d paid for were nothing more than cheese sandwiches and there was not an organizer in sight to help with their question.
The situation became dangerous – people stranded on the island ran out of water and some started fighting over where to sleep.
McFarland was sentenced in October 2018. He is now at the FCI Elkton, in Lisbon, Ohio.
In his interview, he seemed to think that everything would have run smoothly if he’d had longer to organize it.
‘The biggest mistake before I went awry was setting a realistic timeline. Had we given it a year or two, we would gave been in a better place.
‘What the f*** was I thinking? It applies to so many people and decisions that I made.
McFarland and Ja Rule had promoted a luxury event filled with DJs, models, luxury surroundings and epic music
The promo for the festival included Victoria’s Secret models frolicking in the ocean with the famous Bahamian pigs
‘I knowingly lied to raise money for the festival, yes,’ he said.
DailyMail.com previously obtained the first clips of the podcast through Harbinger.
In those episodes, McFarland insisted that the whole story had not been told.
‘We essentially wanted to build a city out of nothing,’ he said.
Multiple event producers advised that a project on Fyre Festival’s magnitude would require at least 18 months of planning and millions more in funding. Notwithstanding the advice- McFarland pushed forward.
‘I couldn’t be told no,’ he said to Harbinger.
As the event neared, it seems that the warning signs were clear to everybody except McFarland. 48 hours before guests were slated to arrive, performers began to drop out. Housing, bathroom facilities, water, food, the stage had all yet to be completed.
And yet, postponement was still out of the question.
These were the tents that the guests found when they arrived. They were hurricane relief tents with foam mattresses inside
This was one of the images that summed the entire debacle up. Guests were given cheese sandwiches when they arrived in Styrofoam boxes
The situation turned dangerous. There was a concern there was not enough water on the island and people didn’t have any means of getting home
On the podcast, McFarland gives insight into his mindset during that critical time: ‘As people were saying it couldn’t be done, some amazing advancement or idea, or deal, just something great would happen to take us to the next level,’ he says.
‘And then those old fears would be forgotten, but that next level would bring us numerous new concerns.’
‘It kept being this amazing ‘cat comes out of the hat’ trick at just the right moment, not only to save things but to motivate people even further.’
Promised ‘modern, eco-friendly geodesic domes’ and luxury beachside villas, festival-goers were shocked when they arrived on the island to chaos and a disaster-relief tent city.
Before McFarland was sentenced, he also sold fake Met Gala and Coachella tickets
McFarland disputes this in the podcast; he insists that there was a massive effort to make good on the promise of ‘villas’ whether they were beachside or not. ‘We had certainly put in the time, effort and funding to secure the villas,’ he said defiantly.
‘For a period of four to six weeks before the festival, we actually rented over 200 separate villas and houses,’ he explained on the podcast.
He tells Harbinger that they hired a former Navy Seal to run a ‘street team’ that knocked on the doors of ‘every possible house, villa or condo they could find’ to offer them cash in exchange for use of their property.
‘We literally took physical possession of these keys. We had these keys in this cardboard box and a printed out Excel document outlining the address of each house and who was supposed to stay in that house.’
Inexplicably McFarland says, ‘The head of that villa team disappeared with the box of keys and excel document somewhere in the second of third flight of arriving guests.’
The alleged, ‘box of keys’ was never found.
On the podcast, McFarland claims that he has the bank statements and spreadsheets to back-up his claim, and says: ‘I know some of the guests found their way to the villas and many of them stayed their for the full week, and I’m hoping we can get some of them on to tell their story.’
While awaiting sentencing on bail, McFarland started a new scam that sold fake VIP tickets to exclusive events like the Met Gala, Burning Man and Coachella. In one case, two customers flew from Florida to New York for the Grammy Awards, only to be turned away at the door.
Those looking for an explanation will be disappointed.
He tells Harbinger: ‘This took me the longest to be truthful to myself about what really happened. I think I was just in denial for so long that I could have possibly followed up such a f***** up event with another mistake, especially while being out on bail.’
He added: ‘I was desperate and thought I could dig myself out of the hole.’
Forced distance is the harshest punishment,’ he said, when talking to DailyMail.com about the most difficult part of prison.
‘The whole concept of human connection really dawns on you when you’re essentially locked in a room and separated from the rest of the world.’
He hopes that people will be entertained with stories regaled in his podcast but says, ‘it all starts with acknowledging that I was wrong, and I violated trust.’
‘I just really need to start from the beginning and go through every step and just kind-of keep it raw and centered and not have an agenda for what’s being told.’