Models, Musicians Sued Over Fyre Festival Payments

A lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York seeking to recover money paid to talent agencies, the performers they represent, and some vendors for promoting the infamous Fyre Festival. The lawsuit was filed by trustee Gregory Messer who says the lawsuit is to recover money that the festival’s higher-ups stole from defrauded investors and attendees and gave to celebrities, vendors, and agencies. Messer has been investigating the scandal since 2017.

The Fyre Festival was supposed to be a luxury music experience held on Pablo Escobar’s former island in the Bahamas. The festival, led by William “Billy” McFarland, promised to have “the best in food, art, music and adventure,” with many of the guests staying in beach villas. Guests paid thousands for the experience only to find disaster relief tents and cheese sandwiches waiting for them instead of what had been advertised. The festival was cancelled in April 2017 when music acts began pulling out.

Model Kendall Jenner was reportedly paid $250,000 to promote Fyre Festival through an Instagram post months before the event and earned an additional $25,000 days after sharing the post. Jenner did not reveal that she was paid as an advertiser, according to the complaint. Model Emily Ratajkowski also promoted the festival online without disclosing she was paid. By not revealing their roles as paid promoters, they are also being accused in the complaint of a “clear lack of good faith.”

Nue Agency LLC was given $730,000 by Fyre Media for performances by Pusha T and rappers Desiigner and Tyga. International Creative Management LLC was paid $350,000 for Lil Yachty, Migos, and Rae Sremmurd to perform. Creative Artists Agency was paid $500,000 for Blink-182 to perform. DNA Model Management LLC, which represents Ratajkowski, was paid $299,000. The lawsuit also includes two companies that were paid to charter musicians to the festival on private jets and yachts.

According to the trustee, those named in the lawsuit never even showed up at the infamous festival after promoting it on social media. McFarland was ultimately sentenced to six years in prison in 2018 after pleading guilty to two counts of wire fraud. He is serving time at FCI Otisville in New York with a release date set for September 1, 2023. Both Hulu and Netflix have released documentaries about the rise and fall of the festival.