In a final nod to the infamously botched Fyre Festival, U.S. Marshals have started auctioning off unsold merchandise—including a baseball hat already fetching $300—in an attempt to recoup some money for victims of the 2017 musical festival scam.
The auction, started Thursday by Texas auction house Gaston & Sheehan, includes 126 items ranging from apparel to wristbands and Fyre “tokens” from the $26 million scam. The items, the U.S. Marshals said in a statement, are being sold at a steep discount from the outrageous prices originally put on them by the now incarcerated festival organizer Billy McFarland.
“This Fyre Festival-branded clothing and other items that were seized from Billy McFarland were originally intended to be sold at the Fyre Festival itself but were kept by McFarland, with the intent to sell the items and use the funds to commit further criminal acts while he was on pre-trial release,” the U.S. Marshals Service said in a statement. “The proceeds from the sale of these items, all traceable to McFarland’s $26 million fraud, will go toward the victims of his crimes.”
About a year after Fyre Festival spectacularly failed—spawning two documentaries and endless ridicule—28-year-old McFarland was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to multiple counts of fraud.
Attendees had forked out thousands of dollars for what they thought was a luxury festival on a Bahamas island—only to fly in to find incomplete tents, stale cheese sandwiches, and, of course, no festival.
“McFarland engaged in a scheme to defraud over 80 investors in Fyre Media Inc. and Fyre Festival LLC, as well as a Fyre Festival ticket vendor, causing more than $26 million in losses,” the U.S. Marshals said.
As part of McFarland’s sentence, the entrepreneur is required to pay back the proceeds from his scams. Since he doesn’t have the funds, according to bank records, authorities are auctioning off his non-cash assets, including “two large boxes containing Fyre-branded T-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts and other clothing items that were intended for sale at the Fyre Festival.”
The auction began Thursday with bidding on 126 items starting at low prices, including two pairs of yellow jogger sweatpants for $70 and a pair of black wristbands bearing the words “Conspiracy to change the entertainment industry” for $10. Two days later, some of the items have skyrocketed due to their association with the failed music festival once promoted by models, musicians, and other celebrities.
As of Saturday afternoon, three Fyre-branded black baseball hats and a pair of sweatshirts with a “hand-sewn label” all had bids exceeding $200. Metal tokens, intended to be a substitute currency during the festival, were going for more than $30 each. Someone was willing to pay $25 for a rubber wristband.
The auction, which will end Aug. 13, also includes t-shirts from Ja Rule—one of the co-founders of Fyre Fest—and Ashanti’s Fyre-sponsored 2016 tour.
“We have an assortment of the ‘real thing’ Fyre Festival-branded T-shirts, sweatpants, sweatshirts, hats, wristbands, and medallions,” a spokesman for the Marshals Service’s Manhattan office previously told Vulture. “We know that there is tremendous interest in these items in the NY metro area in particular.”
Unfortunately, the likelihood of two boxes earning $26 million at auction is unlikely. But victims who come forward will receive a percentage of the action’s proceeds “based on their respective loses,” prosecutors said.
In addition to the auction, the trustee overseeing the Fyre Festival bankruptcy case filed 14 lawsuits in December 2019 against several major talent agencies who represented artists that were set to perform at the event—including Pusha T and Blink-182. The lawsuits also name several celebrities, like Kendall Jenner, who promoted the event on social media and appeared in promotional videos.