Billy McFarland, co-founder of the infamous Fyre Festival, has been released from prison early. As Pitchfork reports, he is now in a New York halfway house, where he is expected to remain until 30th August.
The controversial figure was responsible for what was sold as an ultra-luxury music event set on an island in the Bahamas. Taking place in 2017, many Fyre ticket holders were unable to reach the location as the promised private flights were oversubscribed and under-resourced. Others were left stranded at a half-built site with no facilities upon arrival.
Two films, Netflix's Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened and Hulu's Fyre Fraud, documented the build up to the catastrophic event and its aftermath in-depth, revealing that many local workers and business owners contracted by the festival lost huge amounts of money. Several of these were never properly compensated, although crowd funders were set up to reimburse some victims.
In May 2017, McFarland was sued alongside Fyre co-founder, rapper Ja Rule, for $100million in a class action law suit on behalf of festival goers. In March 2018 McFarland was sentenced to six years in a federal prison for multiple counts of fraud, having taken around $27million from investors through marketing and sales prior to the event.
A number of headliners that were billed to perform, including Major Lazer and Disclosure, alongside several influencers involved in promoting the event, settled a separate legal action in 2021 after a trustee overseeing the company's bankruptcy filed to reclaim artist fees. The same year, Ja Rule sold a Fyre Festival oil painting as an NFT for $122,000.
Early in the pandemic, McFarland appealed for early release due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus among inmates, a request that was denied. Despite his incarceration, he then recorded the 'Dumpster Fyre' podcast from his cell in Elkington, Ohio, leading to a six month spell in solitary confinement. Having subsequently been moved to a facility in Michigan, he has now been released into the care of Residential Reentry Management New York, which oversees temporary accommodation for people leaving the prison system.