Monday 24 July 2017

Fyre Festival drama continues as founder tells staff they can't be paid but 'should stay and help'

Elsa Hosk, Emily Ratajkoski, Bella Hadid and other supermodels promoting Fyre Festival
Elsa Hosk, Emily Ratajkoski, Bella Hadid and other supermodels promoting Fyre Festival
Bella Hadid promoting Fyre Festival
Models promoting Fyre Festival and inset, the "luxury cabanas" festival goers were promised

Sasha Brady

Organisers of the shambolic Fyre Festival have told staff that they can no longer be paid.

Billy McFarland, the founder of the company behind Fyre Festival, told staff on Friday that they can no longer be paid but they were welcome to "stay and help out", unpaid because "that would be great".

In a leaked recording obtained by Vice News, the 25-year-old entrepreneur spoke with staff through a conference call and informed them that the company could no longer meet payroll committments.

"After conferring with our counsel and all financial people, unfortunately we are not able to proceed with payroll immediately," McFarland said, telling his staff that "there's no more official employment."

Read more: 'It's like the Hunger Games for rich people' - How Fyre Festival descended into chaos on a deserted island

"We're not firing anybody," he said. "We're just letting you know that there will be no payroll in the shot term."

Models promoting Fyre Festival and inset, the
Models promoting Fyre Festival and inset, the "luxury cabanas" festival goers were promised

There was a reaction of confusion among staff before one employee asks, "The payroll's not happening, we're not being let go, so we're just here?"

Another adds: "So you're not going to lay us off, which would allow us to file for unemployment benefits? You just are not going to pay us any more then, making us quit ourselves?"

Bella Hadid promoting Fyre Festival
Bella Hadid promoting Fyre Festival

Billed as a "cultural moment created from an alchemic blend of music, art, and food", the festival paid Instamodels such as Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski to promote the Bahamas-based luxury event through social media and pushed the package price up to around €10,000.

Read more: 'We reached 300mm people in 24 hours' - Fyre Festival's hilarious pitch presentation has been leaked

Festival-goers were promised luxury but the event quickly descended into chaos when, on arrival, attendees reported finding half-built tents, rat droppings, dogs wandering around the site and mountains of rubbish.

Despite everything, McFarland last week insisted that he, and fellow co-founder Ja Rule, intend to go ahead with the event next year.

Forms for refunds have been sent to every guest, but they have all been offered VIP passes for next year in lieu of cash.

Read more: Fyre Festival attendee files €92m 'Lord of the Flies' lawsuit over alleged 'get-rich-quick scam'

Speaking to Rolling Stone, the management team member said, "Once the refund application process is complete, we will start sharing news on plans for Fyre Festival 2018.

"Currently 81 percent of guests who have filled out the refund application have said they would like to attend Fyre Festival 2018. We are so thankful for their support and excitement as we strive to make this right."

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