Fyre Festival merchandise up for auction by US marshals to compensate 'victims' of fraud

Seized merchandise from the ill-fated Fyre Festival is being auctioned off by US marshals to raise money for "victims" of the fraudulent event.

Lore of the Fyre Festival's failures have been widely documented, from social media to Netflix. The event's co-founder, Billy McFarland, is currently serving six years in prison after being convicted of wire and mail fraud in relation to the 2017 festival.

Three years later and a selection of merchandise - including hats, T-shirts and sweatpants - are now being auctioned off by the US Marshals Service, a government law enforcement agency, to compensate the duped festival-goers.

"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 pretrial release," US marshal Ralph Sozio said in a statement on the agency's website.

"The proceeds from the sale of these items, all traceable to McFarland's $26m fraud, will go toward the victims of his crimes."

Many of the 126 items up for auction by Gaston & Sheehan have already attracted high bids at the time of writing. One 'Fyre' logo cap is sitting at US$265, while crew-neck sweatshirts are going for US$200 to $300. Wristbands emblazoned with the somewhat prophetic slogan, "Conspiracy to change the entertainment industry", are at US$25, while sweatpants will set enthusiasts back by more than US$100. Bidding will close on August 13.

The failed festival gained international attention in April 2017 after footage, captured by hordes of duped attendees, began to emerge on social media. Marketed as a luxury music event to promote McFarland's talent booking app Fyre, numerous festival-goers - who paid anywhere between US$500 for a day pass to US$400,000 for a VIP group package - arrived on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma to disaster relief tents, cheese and bread, and none of the promised acts. 

It was later discovered that McFarland, now 28, had defrauded more than 80 investors in Fyre Media Inc, Fyre Festival LLC and a Fyre Festival ticket vendor, causing more than US$26 million in losses.

In 2017 McFarland and co-organiser Ja Rule, an American rapper, were sued for US$100 million in a class action lawsuit. In March 2018, McFarland pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and admitted to using fake documents to attract investors. According to the US Marshals Service, McFarland is expected to be released in 2023.