Convicted Fyre Festival Fraudster Is Planning Another Bahamas Venture, But the Bahamas Don't Want Him

Billy McFarland is out of jail and ready for his next move: another event in the Bahamas to help pay back everyone he defrauded there five years ago.
Convicted Fyre Festival Fraudster Is Planning Another Bahamas Venture, But the Bahamas Don't Want Him
Patrick McMullan / Contributor

Billy McFarland, the Fyre Festival founder who went to jail for defrauding investors to the tune of $26 million, is back at it again with another venture in the Bahamas. The new venture is called PYRT (a seemingly FYRE-inspired way of saying "pirate"), which he debuted on TikTok in an amusing set of videos.

"PYRT is not a festival. It's not an event. And it's definitely not the metaverse," McFarland says in a recent TikTok pitching the project. "PYRT is a technology I've been working on for the past few years called the VID/R: the virtual immersive decentralized reality."

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In reality, PYRT sounds like an amalgamation of all three things that McFarlane says it's not, as he goes on to describe a festival, an event, and a metaverse. McFarland says in the TikTok that the project will partner with a "small, remote destination" to host "a handful of artists, content creators, entrepreneurs, and any of you guys who end up joining the PYRT crew." At the same time, PYRT launch a virtual replica of the island "where anyone around the world can not only watch what's happening live but they can actually come together with their friends to effect and even own their real world adventures." He then pointed to a “virtual map” of an island that appeared to be made of paper and taped to a wall. 

McFarland's choice of location? One of his "favorite islands in the Exumas" in the Bahamas. Exuma also hosted Fyre Festival, the fraudulent disaster that stiffed local Bahamian workers and businesses and sent McFarland to prison. PYRT's website states that $50 from every $250 PYRT jacket will go towards paying people owed money in the Bahamas and to pay back the people McFarland defrauded via Fyre Festival. 

Naturally, the Bahamian government doesn't seem keen to host a McFarland-associated event again. "The public is advised that no application has been made to the Government of The Bahamas for consideration of any event promoted by Billy McFarland or any entity or parties known to be associated with him," the government stated in a letter after McFarland began teasing a "treasure hunt" prize in the Bahamas in early November. "McFarland was the organizer of the Fyre Festival several years ago, a notorious charade for which McFarland was convicted and sent to prison in the USA. The Government of The Bahamas will not endorse or approve any event in The Bahamas associated with him."

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The letter called McFarland a "fugitive" with "several pending complaints" against him with the Royal Bahamas Police Force. Anyone with knowledge of McFarland's whereabouts should report it to the police, the letter said. 

In a response letter from McFarland to the Bahamas, reported on by TMZ, McFarland said he was writing to "profusely apologize” for his actions 5 years ago. To that end, "my main focus is how I can right my wrongs and how I can make the Bahamas and Family Islands, a region I care so deeply about, whole again."

McFarland said on TikTok that PYRT won’t just focus on the Bahamas and he encouraged Caribbean nations and “any other adventurous location” to partner with the project.

Still, none of this actually answers what PYRT is, besides a metaverse festival that definitely isn't a metaverse festival. McFarland's teaser doesn't offer much in the way of answers. 

Clearly, this is a bid to pay back the tens of millions he owes investors after defrauding them, attendees, and previous partners back in 2017. It’s not clear why he thinks anyone will bite this time around, and even the country that will supposedly see some of the benefits from PYRT sales doesn't want anything to do with it or McFarland. 

PYRT did not immediately respond to a request for comment.