Founder of disastrous Bahamas festival admits swindling investors

Billy McFarland leaves federal court on Tuesday, in New York. He faces a sentence of 8 to 10 years. (AP)
Updated 07 March 2018
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Founder of disastrous Bahamas festival admits swindling investors

NEW YORK: The entrepreneur behind a luxury music festival in the Bahamas that collapsed in chaos admitted Tuesday that he swindled investors by vastly overstating his financial health.
Billy McFarland, 26, agreed before a federal court in New York to forfeit more than $26 million and pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, a charge that relates to financial deceit, prosecutors said in a statement.
He would have faced up to 20 years in prison for each count but is expected to be sentenced to less time due to his guilty plea.
McFarland was the force behind the Fyre Festival, which had billed itself as the ultimate upscale getaway amid a fast-growing market for music events.
Hundreds of partygoers headed to the Bahamas, some paying more than $100,000 each, but instead found tents that would have looked in place in relief camps and cuisine that was just rudimentary sandwiches.
Prosecutors said McFarland had repeatedly misrepresented himself to build his Fyre Media tech company and the ill-fated festival.
He falsified statements to show investors that his company earned millions of dollars from April 2016 and February 2017 through talent bookings, which in reality has grossed just $57,443, prosecutors said.
The US Attorney’s office said that at least 80 investors fell victim to his scheme, losing more than $24 million.


Han Solo’s ‘Return of the Jedi’ blaster sells for $550,000

Updated 24 June 2018
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Han Solo’s ‘Return of the Jedi’ blaster sells for $550,000

  • The faux weapon, mainly made of wood, had been put on display in New York by Julien’s Auctions last month after more than 30 years tucked away in the belongings of James Schoppe, art director of “Return of the Jedi”
  • Martin Nolan, the auction house’s executive director, said Schoppe, an Oscar nominee for his work on the film, finally decided to part with Solo’s gun and about 40 other items from the movie, including an Ewok axe and plans for Jabba the Hutt’s ship

WASHINGTON: In the wildly popular “Star Wars” films, Han Solo once told a lightsaber-wielding Luke Skywalker: “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”
That was the case when one of the blaster pistol props used by Harrison Ford in “Return of the Jedi” (1983) went under the hammer, selling for $550,000 — topping the $450,000 previously fetched by Skywalker’s lightsaber from the first two films.
“SOLD for $550,000! An original Han Solo blaster used in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi!” Julien’s Auctions announced on Twitter Saturday.
The faux weapon, mainly made of wood, had been put on display in New York by Julien’s Auctions last month after more than 30 years tucked away in the belongings of James Schoppe, art director of “Return of the Jedi.”
Martin Nolan, the auction house’s executive director, said Schoppe, an Oscar nominee for his work on the film, finally decided to part with Solo’s gun and about 40 other items from the movie, including an Ewok axe and plans for Jabba the Hutt’s ship.
The Ewok axe went for $11,250, while another blaster prop from the film fetched $90,624, according to Julien’s Auctions.
But none of the props were a match for the space saga’s much-loved droid: last year, an R2-D2 used in the making of several “Star Wars” films sold for $2.76 million at auction in Los Angeles.