And Finally Business News Live Business

Billy McFarland’s Bahamas treasure hunt in the balance after country says he’s not welcome

By | Published on Tuesday 15 November 2022

Billy McFarland

Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland’s big plan to launch a whole new event in the Bahamas has hit a snag, after it turned out that the country’s government is not that keen on having him back for some reason.

A statement from Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper published yesterday reads: “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 entities or parties known to be associated with him”.

“McFarland was the organiser of the Fyre Festival several years ago, a notorious charade for which McFarland was convicted and sent to prison in the USA”, he goes on. “The government of The Bahamas will not endorse or approve any event in The Bahamas associated with him”.

As if that wasn’t enough, Cooper adds that if McFarland sets foot in The Bahamas, he faces arrest, saying: “He considered to be a fugitive, with several pending complaints made against him with the Royal Bahamas Police Force. Anyone knowing of his whereabouts should report [them] to the RBPF”.

McFarland, of course, was imprisoned in 2018 after being convicted of two counts of wire fraud in relation to finances raised for his doomed Bahamas-based Fyre Festival. It was supposed to be a luxury event, but by the time ticket holders began arriving, organisers had not managed to put in place even basic infrastructure and the whole thing collapsed dramatically before it could get started – as chronicled in two documentary films.

He served four years of a six year sentence. And with $26 million still to repay to those he defrauded, he is seeking ways to make enough money to clear that debt.

Earlier this month McFarland announced plans to return to The Bahamas for a new treasure hunt event, which he’s calling PYRT. The plan is for participants try to track down 99 bottles containing messages in order to win a grand prize.

Prior to announcing the treasure hunt, he said that he was working on a project that was “a whole lot bigger than anything I’ve ever tried before”. It was also announced earlier this month that production company Ample Entertainment is making a documentary about McFarland’s life after being released from prison, with plans to follow him to The Bahamas to document this new event.

That trip, it seems, is now off. The Bahamas has made it pretty clear that it doesn’t want him back. Has that put McFarland off? No, of course not. According to TMZ, he has fired off a letter in response to Cooper’s statement pleading with the country’s government to have him back.

“I am writing to you to profusely apologise for my actions five years ago”, he reportedly writes. “I was completely wrong and I wholly regret my actions … My main focus [now] 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”.

He really doesn’t seem like the right person to do that, but whatever. He reckons he has plenty of friends in the country, despite everything, saying that he has maintained contact with many people on the islands, and that “their generosity and kind hearts have been a constant guide and motivation for me. I have been re-engaging with the families of the islands to see what I can do to begin making amends”.

If we know one thing about McFarland, it’s that he has an innate ability to push forward with things that are quite clearly not working. So, it remains to be seen what becomes of his treasure hunt. That documentary crew will be there to capture it all.

Will the conclusion be the event taking place, becoming a huge success and making him a hero in The Bahamas? Will he just abandon the whole project and move on to something more realistic? Or will the film conclude with him flying there, being arrested and imprisoned in the country? Only time will tell.