Music festivals are a hit amongst the millennial generation. From Coachella to Lollapalooza, these concerts offer an escape for those ranging from their early 20s to early 30s. Fyre Festival, a music festival scheduled to take place on a Bahamian Island in April 2017, was supposed to be the next big thing. But it quickly turned into a disaster.
Fyre Festival is now the subject of two hit documentaries that are gaining traction on Netflix and Hulu. Both documentaries center on Billy McFarland, the entrepreneur who planned the event. Where is Billy today? Is he in jail? What was his sentencing and how is he paying for, in the words of Game Spot, being a “functioning sociopath, compulsive liar, and a modern-day snake oil salesman”?
McFarland is just 27, but he’s landed himself in some very hot water. He was arrested on June 30, 2017, and charged with wire fraud in Manhattan federal court after defrauding investors and buyers of nearly $26 million. In October, McFarland was sentenced to six years in prison by a federal judge.
Today, he is incarcerated at the Otisville Federal Correctional Facility in New York.
During his sentencing, McFarland apologized for his actions, saying that a “fear of letting everybody down” is what led to his mistakes. “I made decisions that were a slap in the face to everything my family tried to teach me,” he explained.
In a statement after McFarland’s sentencing, US Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman of the Southern District of New York said, “Billy McFarland has shown a disturbing pattern of deception, which resulted in investors and customers losing over $26 million in two separate fraud schemes… As he had previously admitted, Billy McFarland did not deliver on his promises to his investors and customers. Today, McFarland found out the hard way that empty promises don’t lead to jet-setting, champagne, and extravagant parties — they lead to federal prison.”
According to NBC, prosecutors pushed for a 15-year prison sentence for McFarland. His attorneys, however, asked for leniency in the case, stating that Billy suffered from mental health issues.
Both Netflix and Netflix’s documentaries chronicle Fyre Festival from its inception to its complete destruction. In April 2017, hundreds of millennials made their way to the island of Great Exumas, where they expected to experience the most exclusive music festival the world had to offer. Within minutes, however, their hopes were met with disappointment and fear. The beaches were lined with FEMA tents, the food consisted of a piece of cheese slapped onto bread, and there was no infrastructure in place for the event.
In a November statement to People, McFarland said, “I am incredibly sorry for my collective actions and will right the wrongs I have delivered to my family, friends, partners, associates and, you, the general public,” he tells PEOPLE. “I’ve always sought — and dreamed — to accomplish incredible things by pushing the envelope to deliver for a common good, but I made many wrong and immature decisions along the way and I caused agony. As a result, I’ve lived every day in prison with pain, and I will continue to do so until I am able to make up for some of this harm through work and actions that society finds respectable.”
As of now, no ticket holders have been refunded for their purchases.