NYT Gets Its Hands on Telling Recording of Fyre Fest Meeting

'NYT' cites audio of an apparently unfazed Ja Rule, partner after fiasco
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2017 7:50 AM CDT
Next From Fyre Fest's Ashes: Lawsuits, FBI Investigation
This photo shows mattresses and tents set up for attendees of the Fyre Festival on April 28, 2017, in the Bahamas.   (Jake Strang via AP)

People won't soon forget the Ja Rule "luxury" music fest in the Bahamas that ended in chaos. The performer and his business partner, Billy McFarland, apologized afterward, but the pair's company, Fyre Media, has now been slammed with more than a dozen lawsuits, and a source tells the New York Times the FBI is also conducting a criminal probe to see if mail, wire, and securities fraud were committed. The CEO of ticket vendor Tablelist tells Rolling Stone that a suit was warranted after it became clear "those behind Fyre Festival weren't being square." Despite these issues, however, the Times says it has a recording of McFarland meeting with employees May 2, saying they'd do another festival next year and that the media had "sensationalized" what happened. Ja Rule piped in: "The whole world knows Fyre's name now. This will pass, guys."

The Times zooms in on McFarland, whom it says "could be the Wolf of Wall Street for the selfie set, or Gatsby run through an Instagram filter." The paper details the 25-year-old's "trail of aggrieved customers and business partners," as well as the launch of Fyre Media in 2016. Per anonymous Fyre Media staff who spoke to the Times, new hires were given no forms to fill out and payment methods were inconsistent. Red flags also emerged during Fyre Fest planning, with contractors not getting paid, tickets sold before a location had been finalized, and McFarland "scrounging for funds." In the recording, Ja Rule can be heard replying to employees wondering if their company committed fraud: "False advertising, maybe—not fraud." A statement from McFarland says he wants to "make this right," and one of Ja Rule's lawyers says it's "simply not in his DNA" to rip anyone off. (More Fyre Festival stories.)

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