The 2017 Fyre Festival went from being an über-hyped celebrity-endorsed event to an embarrassing catastrophe to an international punchline to a legal mess. Billy McFarland and Jeffrey “Ja Rule” Atkins’s ill-fated Bahamian extravaganza ended up costing a lot of people money.
Attendees paid thousands of dollars to travel to the island of Great Exuma expecting to party with high-profile social media influencers and fashion models while watching music megastars perform live. Instead, ticket buyers arrived to find cheap cheese sandwiches, soaked disaster relief tents, and canceled flights back home.
As a result of the misleading marketing campaign beforehand and the horrible conditions on the ground, 277 people filed a $2 million class-action lawsuit against organizers of the Fyre Festival. According to reports, a settlement was reached this week.
The deal was struck in the United States bankruptcy court in the Southern District of New York, but the agreement is subject to a vote of approval on May 13. Each plaintiff is said to be receiving $7,220, but the final amount could be reduced because of pending bankruptcy cases involving other creditors.
Multiple other lawsuits over the disastrous private island vacation have been filed across several states as well. In 2018, Seth Crossno and Mark Thompson won $5 million in damages when a North Carolina judge ruled in their favor after Billy McFarland failed to answer the suit.
The Fyre Festival story instantly spread across social media in April 2017 as attendees landed in the Bahamas to discover that McFarland and other planners greatly oversold and underdelivered on what was advertised. McFarland later pleaded guilty to wire fraud and was sentenced to six years in federal prison.
Two years later, Fyre Festival once again entered the pop culture radar when Hulu’s Fyre Fraud and Netflix’s Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened premiered the same week. Both January 2019 documentaries about the botched affair generated enormous buzz and conversation about Fyre.
Ja Rule faced intense criticism for his alleged role in deceiving would-be partygoers. In 2019, The Queens-bred rapper was cleared of legal wrongdoing in a $100 million class-action lawsuit when a New York judge dismissed an appeal filed to add him as a defendant. Ja’s lawyer, Ryan Hayden Smith, told AllHipHop.com, “This ruling is nothing short of a total vindication of Mr. Atkins.”