How Fyre Festival Hoodwinked Investors Out Of $36 Million

Image: Supplied

A leaked sales deck for 2017's disastrous Fyre Festival contains the pitch CEO Billy McFarland gave investors ahead of the failed event. The model-festooned sales deck contains misleading information about the festival and has been described as "beyond parody." Here are the slides.

Fyre Festival was advertised as an upscale music festival in the Bahamas, complete with luxury beach villas, gourmet food, private jets, and supermodels and influencers galore.

The experience customers received was the polar opposite, as anyone who watched the disaster unfold online or saw either of the two recent documentaries about the event knows.

McFarland was sentenced to six years in prison in 2018 after pleading guilty to wire-fraud charges. He was ordered to forfeit more than $US26 million that investors had pumped into Fyre.

A 43-slide sales deck containing Fyre's investor pitch contains many of the exaggerated claims and outright lies that would eventually doom the festival. The pitch deck was first reported on in 2017 by Vanity Fair's Nick Bilton - who uploaded the full deck online - and recently recirculated on LinkedIn.

Read on to see some of the most shocking, outlandish, and surreal slides from the Fyre Festival pitch deck.

In 2016 and 2017, Fyre CEO Billy McFarland secured $US26.4 million for his company from more than 100 investors.

Source: Securities and Exchange Commission

McFarland's investor pitch deck begins with a primer on Fyre's app, which would enable users to directly book artists and celebrities for events. (Fyre Festival was conceived with the intent of promoting the app.)

Source: Business Insider

A few slides in, the deck shifts to the festival itself.

Fyre Festival was marketed as a luxury music festival in the Bahamas, with the cheapest tickets costing about $US1,200. Some packages cost more than $US100,000.

Source: The New York Times

In the pitch deck, Fyre asked investors, "What if we reimagined what it means to attend a music festival?"

And it promised the festival would ignite "energy" and "power" in its guests.

One slide showcased an ambitious five-year plan for Fyre Festival: to host the event on different "untouched lands" each year through the purchase of "significant land."

Marketing for Fyre said the event would take place on Norman's Cay, a small private island in the Exuma region of the Bahamas. But just months before the festival, Fyre switched the location to a desolate section of the biggest Exuma island near a Sandals resort.

Source: Vanity Fair

Included in the deck was Fyre Festival's now infamous promotional video, which showed influencers and models partying on the beach and was shared widely on social media.

Source: Business Insider

Fyre told investors they expected 40,000 guests to attend the two-weekend festival. In reality, 5,000 tickets to the event were sold.

Source: The Guardian

Fyre touted its lineup of more than 60 "Fyre Starters," social-media influencers who were enlisted to promote the festival. Several of the influencers faced backlash for their participation in the campaign after the event fell apart.

Source: BBC

The pitch deck leans heavily on Fyre's partnership with Kendall Jenner. The model reportedly received $US250,000 for a single Instagram post, which she has since deleted, promoting the event.

Source: Business Insider

Although Fyre's pitch deck is short on specifics, it's filled to the brim with corporate buzzwords like "ideate" and "conceptualize."

It lists several of Fyre's "pending" corporate partnerships and cites McFarland's previous company, Magnises, as a confirmed partner. Another partner, the ticket vendor Tablelist, is suing Fyre for $US3.5 million. The lawsuit alleges Fyre violated its contract and defrauded the company. A third listed partner, Snapchat, had no connection to the event, according to a representative at the company.

Source: Rolling Stone

Fyre boasted that it owned $US8.4 million worth of land in the Bahamas, which turned out to be false.


In one telling slide, a section called "financials" is glossed over.

McFarland is serving a six-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in 2018 to wire-fraud charges in relation to Fyre Festival. He agreed to forfeit more than $US26 million that investors poured into the company. Fyre cofounder Ja Rule denied liability for the fiasco.

Sources: Business Insider and BBC

Vanity Fair's Nick Bilton, who reported on the Fyre pitch deck in 2017, called the document "beyond parody" and said it "resembles an amalgamation of a Miami Beach spa package with selfies you might find saved on a teenager's smartphone."

Source: Vanity Fair

"The remorse I feel is crushing," McFarland said during his sentencing, according to Vice News. "I lived every day with the weight of knowing that I literally destroyed the lives of my friends and family."

Source: Vice News

This story originally appeared on Business Insider.


    i still think if someone did this the right way it would really awesome. but not with anyone involved from Fyre Festival obviously.

    Fyre boasted that it owned $US8.4 million worth of land in the Bahamas, which turned out to be false.Actually, that slide says they have $8.4 millimetres of land. Which, if it made any sense at all would be about 20 grains of sand.

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