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
0

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.


Photographer admits nude pyramid video ‘the dumbest idea’

Updated 09 December 2018
0

Photographer admits nude pyramid video ‘the dumbest idea’

  • Photographer says he did not mean to be disrespectful
  • Egyptian Minister of Antiquities dubs it a "violation of public morality"

DUBAI: A video that shows a Danish couple climbing the Pyramid of Khufu before posing naked at the top has gone viral, sparking outrage from both the Egyptian government and the general public.

The video, posted on YouTube last Wednesday, was shot by Danish photographer Andreas Hvid, who is known on social media for posting pictures from various high vantage points around the world. Known as “rooftopping,” the process involves climbing cranes, chimneys or high-rise buildings unsecured and usually illegally. Hvid has been doing it for years and has more than 11,000 followers on Instagram.

Speaking to Ekstra Bladet, a Danish tabloid, Hvid said he had wanted to do a pyramid shoot for some time. This was Hvid’s second attempt to climb the pyramid following a failed attempt, when he and a friend were caught by guards and taken to the local police station. They were released with a warning.

After sneaking on to the plateau just before closing, he and his model friend hid in a temple and waited for the level of activity on the plateau to fall. “We lay and froze for about an hour-and-a-half while we could hear cars driving around,” he said.

The actual climb took about 25 minutes. “A euphoric feeling struck us both when we reached the top,” Hvid said. “It was the culmination of a lot of work and many chances taken.”

As for the subject matter of the video, he said he did not mean for it to come across as disrespectful, but rather as a critique on the behavior of privileged Western youths. “It was the dumbest idea I could think of. Western, privileged youth at its worst. But I don’t make fun of religious symbols, which the pyramids haven’t been in 4,500 years.”

Speaking to Al-Ahram, Minister of Antiquities Khaled Al-Anany called it a violation of public morality and said he had filed a memo with the prosecutor-general on Friday. Al-Anany promised that the incident and the video would be investigated by the attorney-general, although it is unclear what sort of action could be taken against the couple.

Climbing pyramids is illegal in Egypt, though that hasn’t stopped people before. In 2016, German teen Andrej Ciesielski also climbed the Pyramid of Khufu, causing Egypt to send an official notice to the German embassy banning him from the country for life.

As for Hvid, he has since moved to an unspecified location in Asia. “I will stay out of Egypt in the future, as I probably risk being sentenced if I go back,” he told Ekstra Bladet. “It was the desire to climb the pyramid that brought me here, so I feel I've gotten what I wanted.”