Billy McFarland is ready for his second act – determined to sink the failed Fyre Festival and prove that he is not a convicted fraudster.
But his new dream sounds even more terrifying than the one that landed him in prison for nearly four years.
McFarland, who turns 31 on Sunday, is planning what he calls a “virtual immersive decentralized reality” event: exclusive parties — featuring influencers and entertainers — that will be broadcast “to the whole world.” Users sitting on their couches at home could pay to “reality change” what was happening at the party.
For example, McFarland told The Post, “They could buy the talent a drink and then bring in drink service. [the same kind of drink] to them at the same time the talent takes it.
“So if you’re 18 and you’re on your computer in the middle of America, now you can actually come. [to this party] and not just watch what’s happening, but participate in changing it, McFarland said. “It gives you access to a really great group of land and people.”
He also gave a more chilling example of how “guests” in the house can control the action.
“If they decide to chop up the water I’m swimming in, the water will really compress and the sharks will be happy.”
Given that McFarland is one of the most hated men in America, there are likely to be many takers for this offer.
In April 2017, thousands paid $12,000 each for the promise of mingling with influencers like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid — both paid to endorse the festival — and at McFarland’s Fyre, Pusha T and For performances like Blink-182. Festival on Great Exuma Island in the Bahamas.
But the young, vibrant crowd turned up to find decorated villas instead of the delicious food they were promised, and disaster relief tents instead of sad-looking sandwiches. There were no performances, and influencers knew to take off and sail home as soon as possible.
Organized a candle festival with McFarland rapper Ja Rule, who has not been charged. McFarland pleaded guilty in March 2018 to two counts of wire fraud. Embarrassing promoter later was deprived of freedom for six years and spent time in three federal lockups.
In a 2021 prison interview, the convicted fraudster blamed an “unrealistic time frame” for the spectacular failure, which has spawned several documentaries, including Netflix’s Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.
So, after he defrauded investors and more than $26 million, does anyone want to party with Billy McFarland?
The Brooklyn, New Jersey native, who was released from prison in late March and entered a halfway house on Aug. 30, said he’s well aware of his many skeptics — but wants to prove the naysayers wrong.
“I’m very sorry for breaking their trust,” McFarland told The Post. “There’s no other way to put it, I’ve been a complete mess before and I deserved everything that came my way. And I don’t think it will stop coming for a while. In the next six, 12, 18 months, it’s going to be tougher, but I want to go at it and try to make a positive impact and help those who are hurt along the way.
McFarland, who still owes $26.3 million in payments, said he has paid $19,000 in eight payments since late August.
“The easiest way to describe it is to set up the adventures with live 360 cameras and create a virtual replica of the islands, where everyone can be online, but when they’re doing something virtually, it’s happening in the real world. McFarland said.
It’s hard to imagine. But it’s not hard to see why he wants to return to the scene of crime.
McFarland is anyone Catching himself in Cameooffering customized videos for just $69—he said he had real parties in mind somewhere in the Bahamas.
“The public is advised that no application has been made to the Government of the Bahamas to consider the incident brought forward by Billy McFarland or any organization or party known to be associated with him,” Deputy Prime Minister Chester said last month. Cooper. .
As the organizer of the Fyre Festival, which Cooper called a “famous charade,” the Bahamas does not support any McFarland-related events.
“He is considered a fugitive, there are several complaints filed against him with the Royal Bahamas Police Force,” Cooper said. “Anyone who knows of his whereabouts should inform the RBPF.”
Messages seeking comment from the Royal Bahamas Police Force were not returned.
McFarland’s attorney, Harlan Protass, said he was unaware his client was wanted by police in the Bahamas.
“Billy McFarland has paid his debt to society and is rebuilding his life and work so that he can make restitution to the victims of his crimes,” Manhattan-based Protass said in a statement to The Post.
Paying his debt to society, McFarlandHe said he was sent to prison for having a USB drive.
“I got into trouble a few times,” McFarland said, adding that she had an unauthorized device to save notes for her final book.
Other inmates quickly recognized McFarland, which led to sometimes unrelated discussions, he said.
“The toxic thing is that everyone comes to me with a little scam, whether it’s an idea or a tip,” he said. “And I didn’t know how to do what they were talking about. Most people couldn’t believe that I didn’t understand how to steal credit cards.
“My crime was not sophisticated,” he added. “I lied to investors about how much money we had, and there’s nothing complicated about it. So it was kind of funny, like, ‘Sorry guys, I’m not good at this.'”
McFarland said the number of inmates he is committing fraud related to the Wage Protection Program — federal loans to help small businesses recover from the pandemic — while locked up. Since his release, he said, he has had to “mostly cut ties” with many people in prison.
“Since my sentence ended, it’s been a lot easier to build really strong people around me, but people in prison have seen an opportunity, for lack of a better description,” McFarland continued. “It was very difficult to go through that environment.”
While clarifying his “travel restrictions” for the Bahamas, McFarland said he plans to test his virtual paid “experiences” in the States in the next few months, including a Jet Ski race around New York in the middle. from winter.
“All talent [will be] wearing super-thick wetsuits, we’ll have drones stream it live and allow fans to change the course of the race,” McFarland explained. “It’s going to be a fun way to test the technology.”
McFarland is also looking forward to participating.
“I love the water, so I want to race around New York,” he said. “I can’t go to the Bahamas, so I’ll do it in the freezing cold.”
Some technology experts contacted by The Post said they were interested in McFarland’s PYRT project, but needed more details.
“I have a question: What is ‘real change’?” According to Joseph LaViola, a computer science professor at the University of Central Florida, McFarland claims that when PYRT users “do something virtually, it happens in the real world.”
“Depending on how you define ‘real change’ will determine whether or not the idea is feasible,” LaViola added.
The concept of a “digital twin” or a virtual copy of a physical person is not new, says the professor, and many companies are investing heavily in them.
“It’s possible to change the virtual copy and change the actual physical space, but there are conditions on how to do it and what can be done,” LaViola said.
Meanwhile, a desperate McFarland said he intends to continue building his PYRT team of “about a dozen” employees and generate funding as soon as possible.