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The Latest Fyre Festival Revelations Just Get Worse and Worse

The saga of Fyre Festival -- the music festival that promised an ultra-luxurious Bahamian getaway accompanied by major recording artists, super models, and yachts but instead delivered a scene of devastation -- just got dirtier. An exhaustive report in Vice News details how Fyre Festival organizers wasted the company’s money on endorsements from models, yachts, and a glut of other lavish outlays before logistical planning even began.

According to multiple interviews with former Fyre Media employees, serious planning for the April festival didn’t begin until February or early March, even though CEO Billy McFarland initially conceived of the event in October 2016. For months prior to the supposed bacchanal, organizers poured vast sums of money into glossy marketing campaigns, promoting the festival through social media influencers and models. Now 400 of those posts are the subject of a lawsuit filed against McFarland, Fyre Media, and his main business partner Ja Rule in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging a violation of Federal Trade Commission rules. Consumers were allegedly made to believe that they’d rub shoulders with influencers and super models alongside yachts and gourmet cuisine, but the socialites and luxury fare were nowhere to be found at the festival site in Exuma, Bahamas. And as Vice reports, none of the influencers were paid less than $20,000 for their posts, while Kendall Jenner was given a whopping $250,000 for a single endorsement on Instagram.

Countdown begins 🔥 @fyrefestival

A post shared by SHANINA SHAIK (@shaninamshaik) on

Two days earlier, a $100 million class-action lawsuit was filed against McFarland and Ja Rule by celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos, alleging that a "lack of adequate food, water, shelter, and medical care created a dangerous and panicked situation among attendees -- suddenly finding themselves stranded on a remote island without basic provisions." Festival goers were charged between $500 and $2,000 for tickets, according to Vice News.

The dire situation -- captured and mirthfully enjoyed by the internet -- was largely the result of McFarland and co’s financial mismanagement. McFarland and his buddies routinely flew down to the Bahamas to party with models on the company dime. By March, the company had doled out millions on advertising and marketing and had basically no funds to pay for the festival.

Shortly after, headliners of the reportedly 30-plus musical acts, which included Blink-182, Migos, and Major Lazer, dropped out. When ticket-holders arrived at the event last Thursday, they encountered a festival ground strewn with garbage, FEMA-style disaster relief tents, and cold cheese sandwiches. McFarland issued an apology in Rolling Stone shortly after the chaos took hold on social media, promising refunds to everyone who took the trip to the festival site. Ja Rule, in a more incredulous tone, claimed that the disaster was "NOT MY FAULT" on Twitter. The duo is also offering attendees to trade their refunds for VIP passes to next year’s festival, if they’re daft enough to have faith in Fyre. 

In March, when Fyre employees were told that pulling the festival off in time would be inconceivable, a man on the marketing team allegedly said: “Let’s just do it and be legends, man.”

It's now clear that Fyre Festival is indeed the stuff of legend, but for all the wrong reasons.

[h/t Vice News]

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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Vice. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster.