Published May 01, 2017Ja Rule's Fyre Fest gave Twitter a crash course on how not to run a festival these last few days, greeting attendees with cancelled headliners, lost luggage and some seriously sad-looking sandwiches when they arrived in the Bahamas. Now, the rapper-turned-festival-runner has confirmed that all of the guests have returned home safely and are being offered a full refund.
UPDATE (5/1, 9:45 a.m EDT.): Despite the refunds, the festival has been hit with a $100 million USD class action lawsuit, according to Variety. The suit was initially filed in California by celebrity trial lawyer Mark Geragos on behalf of Daniel Jung, who is seeking $5 million USD for alleged fraud, breach of contract, breach of covenant of good faith and negligent misrepresentation.
The complaint alleges that the festival created a "dangerous and panicked situation" due to inadequate food, water, shelter and medical care, describing the experience as "closer to The Hunger Games or Lord of the Flies than Coachella."
Relieved to share that all guest are safe, and have been sent the form to apply for a refund. Our deepest apologies... #fyrefestival— Ja Rule (@Ruleyork) April 30, 2017
Tickets for the so-called luxury event started at $1,000 USD, also offering VIP packages that ran up to $125,000 USD for the promise of private jet and yacht rentals, massages and beach tours. The festival's official Twitter account confirmed yesterday (April 30) that "guests have been sent a form that will provide the necessary information to apply for a refund" — though some are understandably sceptical about how smoothly that refund process is going to run.
@fyrefestival The refund is an "IOU" written on a McDonald's napkin signed by Ja-Rule— JohnfromCaldwell (@JohnOConnor12) April 30, 2017
Despite the disastrous first outing, Fyre Fest is determined to return next year and has offered 2017 guests free VIP passes for the 2018 instalment.
Ja Rule's business partner and festival co-creator Billy McFarland and his team released a statement over the weekend, giving their side of the festival flop. He details early planning roadblocks and the efforts taken to overcome them despite the island's limited infrastructure, and goes on to thank the Bahamian government and ministry of tourism before apologizing to attendees.
Read the entire message below.
Yesterday was a very challenging day for all of us. But we would like to fully explain what happened.
Billy McFarland and Ja Rule started a partnership over a mutual interest in technology, the ocean, and rap music. This unique combination of interests led them to the idea that, through their combined passions, they could create a new type of music festival and experience on a remote island.
They simply weren't ready for what happened next, or how big this thing would get. They started by making a website and launching a viral campaign. Ja helped book talent, and they had hundreds of local Bahamians join in the effort. Suddenly, they found themselves transforming a small island and trying to build a festival. Thousands of people wanted to come. They were excited, but then the roadblocks started popping up.
As amazing as the islands are, the infrastructure for a festival of this magnitude needed to be built from the ground up. So, we decided to literally attempt to build a city. We set up water and waste management, brought an ambulance from New York, and chartered 737 planes to shuttle our guests via 12 flights a day from Miami. We thought we were ready, but then everyone arrived.
The team was overwhelmed. The airport was jam packed. The buses couldn't handle the load. And the wind from rough weather took down half of the tents on the morning our guests were scheduled to arrive. This is an unacceptable guest experience and the Fyre team takes full responsibility for the issues that occurred.
Everyone was very concerned for our guests. They needed a place to sleep and everyone did their absolute best to rebuild. We took everyone to the beach and built as many tents and beds as fast as possible, but as more guests arrived, we were simply in over our heads. Ultimately, we didn't think security could keep up, so we had to postpone the festival. The response to the postponement was immediate and intense. We had no other options, so we began the process of getting guests quickly and safely back to Miami, which continued through the weekend. Our top priority as a company is to ensure the comfort and safe return home of all of our guests.
Then something amazing happened: venues, bands, and people started contacting us and said they'd do anything to make this festival a reality and how they wanted to help. The support from the musical community has been overwhelming and we couldn't be more humbled or inspired by this experience. People were rooting for us after the worst day we've ever had as a company. After speaking with our potential partners, we have decided to add more seasoned event experts to the 2018 Fyre Festival, which will take place at a United States beach venue.
All festival goers this year will be refunded in full. We will be working on refunds over the next few days and will be in touch directly with guests with more details. Also, all guests from this year will have free VIP passes to next year's festival.
We're grateful for the Bahamian Government and The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism for their assistance during this challenging time—their efforts have been exemplary. We want to thank the people of the Bahamas for their support and for graciously allowing us the privilege of visiting their islands. We apologize for any inconvenience the past 24-hours has caused and we look forward to making a considerable donation to the Bahamas Red Cross Society as part of our initiatives. We need to make this right. And once we make this right, then we will put on the dream festival we sought to have since the inception of Fyre.
Thank you for all your continued patience and understanding. We apologize for what all of our guests and staff went through over the last 24 hours and will work tirelessly to make this right. Please check our official social media channels (@fyrefestival) for further important updates.