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Fyre Fest lawyer sues booking agencies for return of acts’ fees

UNITED STATES                 -
World News
September 13, 2019

PARADIGM TALENT Agency (PTA) appears to have broken away from agencies such as Creative Artist Agency (CAA) and United Talent Agency (UTA), according to industry publication Billboard, in an attempt to reach a settlement with lawyer Gregory Messer, who is the bankruptcy trustee of the Fyre Music Festival.

Using litigation to try and recover around $16 million believed to have been  fraudulently raised and spent by Fyre promoter Billy McFarland, Messer is pursuing the agencies for the return or artiste fees paid in advance, as well as chasing  modelling agencies, models and American Express.

The ill-fated Fyre Festival, set to take place on 28-30 April and 5-7 May 2017 on the island of Great Exuma in the Bahamas and sold as a luxury event, collapsed in chaos when people – many on premium VIP packages costing up to $12,000 – arrived to find a site still under construction, rudimentary facilities and no completed stages (see Audience issue 208).

Acts booked to appear included Blink 182, Disclosure, Skepta and Major Lazer, but the event was abandoned after Blink 182 pulled out the day before.

PTA has until 17 January 2020 to reach a settlement, while ICM Partners (being sued for $350,000), CAA , UTA  and other agencies have not yet agreed to settle. Collectively, the agencies are being pursued for more than $1.75 million.

“The trustee and Paradigm parties intend to continue to engage in discussions regarding the potential claims, but will be unable to complete doing so before the deadline expires,” Billboard reports the lawyer stating, adding that the two sides “wish to voluntarily extend the deadline to avoid, if possible, the commencement of litigation.”

Messer argues that the money McFarland paid to the agencies was fraudulent, arguing the funds were the “unfair expense of Fyre Festival’s defrauded investors, creditors and ticket holders”.

Most of the acts booked pulled-out as the fiasco unfolded, with Blink-182 being chased for $500,000.

While out on bail awaiting sentencing on the Fyre Festival fraud charges, McFarland was arrested again in New York on wire fraud and money-laundering charges (see Audience issue 222), relating to selling fake tickets to exclusive events, such as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (cap. 125,000).

McFarland is currently serving a six-year prison term for fraud and was fined $3m.

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