scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Promoter in failed Bahamas music festival pleads guilty

NEW YORK — The promoter of the failed Fyre Festival in the Bahamas — once billed as the ‘‘cultural experience of the decade’’ — pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges Tuesday, agreeing to serve up to a decade in prison for lying to investors and sending false documents.

Billy McFarland, 26, entered the plea in Manhattan federal court in a deal with prosecutors that suggested he serve between eight and 10 years in prison.

‘‘I deeply regret my actions, and I apologize to my investors, team, family, and supporters who I let down,’’ a chastened McFarland told US District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan.


He said he planned to organize ‘‘a legitimate festival’’ when he planned the Fyre Festival as an outgrowth of a digital application he launched in May 2016 to help concert promoters and private individuals directly book musicians for concerts.

The festival was promoted as ‘‘the cultural experience of the decade,’’ an ultra-luxurious event on the Bahamian island of Exuma over two weekends last April and May. Customers hoping to see Blink-182 and the hip hop act Migos arrived to learn music acts were canceled. Their luxury accommodations and gourmet food consisted of leaky white tents and cheese sandwiches. Customers lashed out on social media with the hashtag #fyrefraud.