U.S. Marshals announced the online auction of seized merchandise from the disastrous 2017 Fyre Festival this week. Photo courtesy of U.S. Marshals
Aug. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. Marshals are auctioning promotional hats, clothing, tokens and rubber wristbands left over from the disastrous 2017 Bahamas Fyre Festival fraud scheme as a way to raise forfeiture funds from incarcerated organizer Billy McFarland, the agency said.
Objects for sale in the online auction, which ends Aug. 13, include shirts, t-shirts, jogger sweatpants and baseball caps emblazoned with the Fyre Festival logo. Prices quickly escalated with items originally listed for $15 now fetching $300 or more by Monday.
"This Fyre Festival-branded clothing and other items that were seized from Billy McFarland were originally intended to be sold at the Fyre Festival itself but were kept by McFarland, with the intent to sell the items and use the funds to commit further criminal acts while he was on pre-trial release," said U.S. Marshal Ralph Sozio of the Southern District of New York in a statement. "The proceeds from the sale of these items, all traceable to McFarland's $26 million fraud, will go toward the victims of his crimes."
McFarland, then 25, and his company Fyre Media designed and promoted an exclusive and expensive "life-changing music festival" which charged as much as $400,000 for tickets promoted by Instagram models including Kendall Jenner. Two concerts promised acts such as Blink-18 and McFarland's partner Rapper Ja Rule.
Guests expecting luxury villas and gourmet meals on a private island arrived to find improvised FEMA tents and box lunches with bologna sandwiches in a parking lot.
Festival-goers were stranded on the island and the experience was compared to William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies. The disorganized festival was promptly canceled, leaving an aftermath of multiple civil lawsuits from investors and attendees.
The festival was the subject of documentaries on both Netflix and Hulu and became an example of a social media fraud and fiasco.
McFarland was charged with wire fraud and defrauding more than 80 investors in his companies causing more than $26 million in losses. He was sentenced to six years in prison, and is scheduled to be released in 2023. McFarland befriended Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, star of Jersey Shore, who was sentenced to eight months in prison for tax evasion.