The Guy Behind The Epic Fail Fyre Festival Was Sentenced To Six Years In Prison

On Thursday, music promoter Billy McFarland was sentenced to six years in federal prison after being found guilty of multiple counts of fraud.

McFarland is most widely known for organizing the disastrous Fyre Festival in the spring of 2017. Marketed as a luxury music festival on a private Bahamian beach, Fyre Festival received a lot of hype from A-listers like Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski. Yet for the people who bought tickets, the festival was anything but luxe.

Business Insider reported that festival-goers experienced everything from flight delays, sleeping in, as one guest described, a “disaster tent city,” and receiving salads and cheese sandwiches instead of the world-class cuisine that they were promised.

But Fyre Festival wasn’t the last of McFarland’s schemes. According to Vice News, McFarland also faced a June arrest for a scam called NYC VIP Access that claimed to sell tickets to ultra-exclusive events like The Met Gala. The New York Times writes that 30 or more of NYC VIP Access' clients lost a minimum of $150,000, which is staggering considering the 24 million dollars also lost in the Fyre Festival.

Vice's coverage of the hearing touched on debates over both McFarland’s character and his mental health. In the hopes of getting a more lenient sentence, McFarland’s lawyers claimed that his recently diagnosed bipolar disorder clouded his judgment and tried to re-frame the Fyre Festival as a well-intentioned but flawed business venture as opposed to an outright scam.

These tactics didn’t work on District Court Judge Naomi Buchwald. Citing McFarland’s pattern of deceit, she reasoned that such extreme behavior could not be forgiven, even with his bipolar diagnosis. She said, “It is my conclusion based on all the submissions that the defendant is a serial fraudster and that to date his fraud, like a circle, has no ending."

Though things are currently pretty bad for McFarland, Buchwald could have given him a maximum of 20 years for the charges brought against him, making the six years he did receive seem not so bad after all.