The trustee handling the Fyre Festival bankruptcy has filed 14 lawsuits against a number of major talent agencies, transportation companies, management firms and even celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Blink 182 in an attempt to recoup $14.4 million paid out by Fyre Media and its infamous founder Billy McFarland to stage the notoriously disastrous festival in the Bahamas.
McFarland is currently serving a six-year federal prison sentence for defrauding investors out of $26 million to stage the music festival with rapper Ja Rule. The promotional help of models and social media influencers were paid big bucks to hype the event on Instagram.
According to Billboard, a man named Gregory Messer has been appointed as a trustee of the chapter seven bankruptcy for Fyre Media. He is working with New York attorney Fred Stevens to recover money owed to creditors and investors.
Messer is suing Creative Artists Agency, United Talent Agency, and International Creative Management as it attempts to recover money paid to artists represented by the firms, as well as $229,172.33 paid to American Express, $160,000 spent on private yachts and $238,550 spent with ticket broker ASC Tickets.
“Significant amounts were recklessly spent in continuation of McFarland’s schemes,” Stevens wrote in the lawsuit filed against Fyre Media, which was responsible for the bulk of the transfers. That includes “musical acts that never showed up,” he wrote, as well as “$2.25 million to influencers that promoted the Festival on social media without indicating to their followers and the public that they were paid for promoting the Festival (including $275,000 to Kendall Jenner for a single social media post).”
In the court documents, Stevens also named Matte Productions, who co-produced a documentary on the festival for Netflix with Jerry Media. According to his suit, records showed a transfer of “over $500,000 to the company that shot and edited Fyre Festival ads and Festival footage which was ultimately used to produce a profitable and popular documentary panning the Festival (without sharing any of the proceeds of that documentary with those victimized by McFarland).”
Most of the lawsuits against the talent agencies are tied to acts that were booked at the festival but ultimately didn’t even attend. Two other agencies, Paradigm and IMG, are currently in settlement negotiation with Messer, while agencies like CAA, which represent Blink-182 and Claptone, decided to take their chances in court.
“Blink-182 had already been paid $500,000 when it canceled at the last minute. The band has retained those funds. In its cancellation tweet, the band did not disclose to its fans and others any of the problems that it was having with Fyre Festival and its management, or that the Festival appeared to be in serious trouble,” Stevens wrote in a lawsuit against CAA.
ICM was named in a lawsuit over a $350,000 payment for a headlining set from an artist with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label, but it was unclear which acts on the label the money was paid to.
There appears to be similar confusion over a lawsuit filed against NUE agency over a $730,000 payment. Stevens wrote that he could trace a $245,000 payment to Pusha T, a $142,500 payment to Desiigner and a $112,500 payment to Tyga, but wasn’t sure who was paid an extra $230,000 in unaccounted-for transferred funds.
Stevens also filed suit against Jenner for the money she was allegedly paid for promoting Fyre on Instagram and accused the model of intentionally misleading the public about a “possible” Kanye West appearance at Fyre Festival.
“Jenner’s reference to her ‘G.O.O.D. Music Family’ as ‘headliners’ at the Festival, intentionally led certain members of the public and ticket purchasers to believe that Jenner’s brother-in-law, famous musician and G.O.O.D. Music record label founder Kanye West, may be or would be performing at the Festival,” Stevens wrote. “In fact, Mr. West was never going to perform at the Festival. This conduct demonstrates a clear lack of good faith on Jenner’s part.”
In addition, the lawsuit also revealed new details about how much McFarland actually raised. The report said McFarland raised $1.4 million in ticket sales in the lead up to the festival and sold Bump Network and Events.com the right to advances on future ticket sales for an additional $1.5 million. Stevens also alleges McFarland spent $315,645 of investor funds on personal expenses “including a luxury penthouse apartment, interior design, and home furnishings, hotel stays, dining and entertainment, transportation, clothing, and other things.”