Fyre Festival Bahamas Island


The fallout surrounding the ill-fated Fyre Festival has moved from vivid complaints on social media to the courts.

Co-owners of Fyre Media Inc., William McFarland and Ja Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, were hit with a proposed class-action lawsuit Wednesday in New York federal court by two attendees of the festival claiming the event was anything but the advertised luxe music festival on an exclusive Bahamian island.

Matthew Herlihy and Anthony Lauriello said they arrived at the private island where the festival was supposedly located after they each paid about $2,000 for tickets and wristbands to an “unplanned, unorganized, disaster-stricken area” that bore no resemblance to the event conjured up by Fyre’s “glossy” marketing, which began in late 2016.

While the issues were apparent to attendees who purchased tickets and packages ranging between $1,000 and upward of $250,000 as soon as they arrived on the island, including a lack of food, shelter and “basic amenities,” such as bathrooms and soap, Herlihy and Lauriello claim the event organizers knew in advance that the event was essentially non-existent.

“Defendants knowingly lured attendees with false and fraudulent pretenses, in which the festival could not compare to,” plaintiffs said.

Images included in the complaint show tents instead of the resort-style amenities that were promised and paid for; portable bathrooms, which were allegedly few and far between, and cheese and bread that was handed out as meals. 

Fyre was promoted as a model-laden event held over two consecutive and “transformative” weekends on Exuma Island offering not only performances by Disclosure, Major Lazer and other musical acts, but first-class dining and a range of resort and spa-like offerings.

“These were all false representations by the defendants as they knew that the event site did not have the proper infrastructure and would have to be built from the ground up,” plaintiffs said.

They also pointed out that Fyre continued to promote the event until the day some of the 7,000 expected attendees began to arrive on the island, despite lacking confirmation for any performers, according to the complaint.

Moreover, Fyre reached out to certain celebrity attendees prior to the event’s kickoff, allegedly urging them to “not attend due to the dangerous and uninhabitable conditions that were present at the event venue.”

Although Fyre has since apologized on its web site acknowledging that advertising for the event came before any planning had been done and saying the event team became “overwhelmed,” the company is characterizing the festival as postponed until 2018, when “more seasoned experts” will carry out the event in the U.S.

Refunds have also been promised, but have yet to materialize, according to Herlihy and Lauriello, who are also seeking a refund of all costs associated with the event, such as airfare and vacation time, for the proposed class.

Plaintiffs are also asking for unspecified damages in excess of $5 million, according to the complaint.

Fyre representatives could not be reached for comment.

This is the second class-action lawsuit filed against Fyre, McFarland and Ja Rule in the week since the event was formally called off on April 28.

The first was filed April 30 by Daniel Jung, who accuses the backers of outright fraud and is seeking damages in excess of $100 million.

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