Models who promoted Fyre Festival face subpoenas over payments

Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski and other models who promoted Fyre Festival face subpoenas over millions in payments as bankruptcy court investigates what happened to the $26million invested in the disastrous event

  • Gregory Messer, the trustee overseeing Fyre Media’s bankruptcy, on Friday requested new subpoenas for celebrities who helped hype the ill-fated festival 
  • The filing seeks information on $5.3M of payments by organizer Billy McFarland
  • One subpoena is for IMG Models, the agency representing supermodels Bella Hadid, Hailey Bieber and Elsa Hosk, who appeared in a promotional video  
  • Another is for Kendall Jenner, who was allegedly paid $250K for an Instagram post about members of Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music family performing at Fyre
  • The festival was scheduled to take place in the Bahamas over two weekends in Spring 2017, promoted by businessman McFarland and rapper Ja Rule  
  • New documentaries on Hulu and Netflix explore how things went terribly wrong 
  • McFarland pleaded guilty to fraud charges and is currently serving six years in jail; he’s been ordered by the court to repay more than $26million
  • He kept no accounting records during the months he spent dropping millions of investor funds on the event
  • Ja Rule, McFarland and other involved parties are facing more than a half-dozen lawsuits from people who forked out thousands of dollars only to be stranded  

Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and other models, Instagram influencers and artists who helped promote Fyre Festival could be forced to disclose information about payments they received from organizer Billy McFarland.  

The trustee overseeing the bankruptcy of Fyre Media on Friday asked a judge for a new round of subpoenas for the celebrities who helped build hype around the ill-fated festival in the Bahamas, according to Billboard. 

Among them are Jenner, Hadid, Hailey Bieber, Emily Ratajkowski and other beautiful people who frolicked in the crystal-clear blue waters of the Caribbean in a promotional video that induced serious ‘fear of missing out’ among social media enthusiasts and drove thousands to purchase tickets for the event spanning two decadent weekends in spring 2017.

Nearly two years later, the subpoenas are part of an investigation into what happened to the estimated $26million McFarland raised from investors and doled out in the weeks and months before Fyre Festival went up in [metaphorical] flames, leaving thousands of attendees and workers broke and abandoned, investors swindled out of millions and, ultimately, landing McFarland behind bars. 

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Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and other models who helped promote Fyre Festival could soon face subpoenas for information about payments they received from organizer Billy McFarland. Supermodels Elsa Hosk, Emily Ratajkowski, Hadid, Lais Ribeiro, Gizele Oliveira and Rose Bertram are seen above (left to right) while in the Bahamas filming a promotional video for the two-weekend festival that ended in disaster in the spring of 2017

A trustee overseeing the bankruptcy filing for Fyre Media filed a request for another round of subpoenas Friday as part of an investigation into what happened with the $26million invested in the event. One of the subpoenas is for IMG Models, the agency that represents supermodels like including Hadid, Bieber and Elsa Hosk, who appeared in the promo video (above)

Fyre Festival was the brainchild of businessman Billy McFarland, right, and rapper Ja Rule, who both heavily promoted the event – and now face multiple lawsuits 

Trustee Gregory Messer’s latest filing is seeking answers on $5.3million-worth of payments, Billboard reported. 

One of the requested subpoenas is for IMG Models, the agency that represents supermodels like including Hadid, Bieber and Elsa Hosk, who appeared in a widely-seen promotional video for Fyre Festival.  

Messer said IMG received payments of $1.2million from McFarland between November 2016 and February 2017, according to Billboard. 

Another subpoena is for Jenner, who received a $250,000-payment in January 2017. Four months later she posted on Instagram that some members of Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music family would be performing at Fyre Festival.  

Jenner didn’t indicate whether she was being paid for the now-deleted post, which did not indicate she was being paid for the Instagram post, which prompted a Federal Trade Commission warning about disclosure rules for sponsored social media posts. 

An additional subpoena is slated for DNA Model Management, which represents Emily Ratajkowski and was paid $299,000 by McFarland in March 2017.

Jerry Media, an online agency that promoted Fyre Festival on social media in exchange for a $90,000 payout in March 2017, is also on the list of entities facing a subpoena.  

The company came under fire for ignoring multiple warning signs that it would not meet expectations as well as allegedly deleting complaints from customers on social media.  

Jenner is expected to get a subpoena for information about a $250,000 payment she received in January 2017. Four months later she posted on Instagram that some members of Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music family would be performing at Fyre Festival

An additional subpoena is slated for DNA Model Management, which represents Emily Ratajkowski (second from left) and was paid $299,000 by McFarland in March 2017

Instagram postings from influencers like Hadid (above center) drove thousands to purchase tickets for the event spanning two decadent weekends in spring 2017

Messer is also reportedly requesting to subpoena some of the artists paid to promote or use the Fyre Media app, which was intended to allow fans to book appearances directly, cutting out the booking agent middle man.  

He is specifically looking into a $115,000 payment to Soulja Boy in August 2016 and a $150,000 payment to Waka Flocka Flame around the same time.  

United Talent Agency, which was paid $90,000 in February 2017, is expected to be subpoenaed along with cruise ship charter company Landry & Kling, private aviation provider Aircraft Services and pastry chef Ellis Duff.


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A number of consultants are facing subpoenas as well: Raymond Andrews, a ‘festival consultant/investor’ who was paid $405,8000; JP Gutfreund, also listed as ‘festival consultant/investor’ and paid $180,000; and LeRoy Archer, the chairman of the Bahamas National Sports Authority who was paid $100,000 in April 2017, just days before the festival. 

Earlier this month, a judge granted subpoenas ordering talent agencies including Paradigm to reveal information on $1.4million in payments to artists booked to play at Fyre Festival.   

Those included $250,000 paid to CAA, the agency representing headliner Blink 182, and another $250,000 paid to ICM Partners, which represented performers Rae Sremmurd, Migos and Lil Yachty at the time. 

Windish Agency and AM Only, which had become part of Paradigm at the beginning of 2017, had received $690,000 in payment for acts including Major Lazer and Disclosure.

Subpoenas have also been requested for 16 companies involved with staging, travel and food and beverage at the event, representing $4.7million. 

In total, the subpoenas represent $11.3million in payments so far.   

Fyre Festival was marketed as the event of the decade, with thousands of guests showing up to Grand Exuma island to find an unfinished campsite with soggy hurricane shelters (above) instead of the luxury villas they were promised

Festivalgoers – mostly from the millenial generation, the event’s target audience – had shelled out thousands of dollars to attend, with one package costing a whopping $250,000

Organizers had promised a luxury once-in-a-lifetime experience – but fed those attending this soggy cheese sandwich, which went viral as ticketholders expressed outrage on social media

Messer was appointed to oversee Fyre Festival’s chapter seven involuntary bankruptcy in early 2017, months after the multi-million dollar flameout, which was chronicled in two recent documentaries: Fyre Fraud on Hulu and Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened on Netflix.

Fyre Festival was marketed as the event of the decade, with thousands of guests showing up to Grand Exuma island to find a half-built campsite with soggy hurricane shelters instead of the luxury villas they were promised.  

McFarland is now serving a six-year sentence in federal prison sentence after pleading guilty to multiple counts of fraud. 

He kept no accounting records during the months he spent dropping millions of investor funds on the event backed by rapper Ja Rule. 

McFarland’s ‘failure to file required schedules and a statement of financial affairs has required the Trustee [Messer] to uncover as much information as he can from third parties in order to gain a full understanding of [McFarland’s] financial affairs,’ Messer wrote in a request to subpoena talent agencies, according to Billboard.  

McFarland pleaded guilty to fraud charges and is currently serving a six-year prison sentence; in addition to the court ordering him to pay $26million, just this week he was also ordered to repay $158,000 in connection with a scheme to sell fake tickets to events such as the Met Gala – a scheme he came up with while out on bail on charges related to Fyre

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