Kendall Jenner and Models in Fyre Festival Promo Video Face Subpoenas Over Millions in Payments
Bankruptcy trustee says McFarland paid $1.2m to agency representing Bella Hadid and Hailey Bieber.
Two agencies representing super models Bella Hadid, Hailey Bieber and Emily Ratajkowski might soon be forced to reveal details about the payments they received from convicted fraudster Billy McFarland for the failed 2017 Fyre Festival.
A subpoena is also expected for model and influencer Kendall Jenner as part of a broad effort to understand what happened to $11.3 million paid out by McFarland in the weeks and months leading up to the doomed festival. Earlier this month, a judge signed off on subpoenas for talent agencies including Paradigm for information on $1.4 million in payments for artists booked to play Fyre Festival. Officials say McFarland raised $26 million from investors and now a bankruptcy court is trying to figure out where the money went.
On Friday, the trustee overseeing the bankruptcy of Fyre Media asked a judge for a new round of subpoenas for the models and social media influencers who helped promote the festival. Trustee Gregory Messer wants to subpoena IMG Models, the Endeavor-owned agency that represents supermodels like Hadid, Bieber and Elsa Hosk who appeared in a widely-seen promotional video for Fyre Festival. Messer said IMG received payments of $1.2 million from McFarland between November 2016 and February 2017.
Messer is also looking into a $250,000 payment made to Jenner in January 2017. Four months later, Jenner posted on Instagram that some members of Kanye West's G.O.O.D Music family would be performing at the two-weekend event on the island of Grand Exuma in the Bahamas. Jenner did not indicate she was being paid for the Instagram post, prompting a warning from the Federal Trade Commission about disclosure rules for sponsored posts on social media.
Jenner has since deleted the post and distanced herself from the disastrous festival that's been subject of two recent documentary films, Fyre Fraud on Hulu (Billboard is listed as a co-producer) and Netflix's Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.
Messer also wants to subpoena Jerry Media, an online agency that promoted Fyre Festival on social media. The company has been criticized for hyping the event despite multiple warning signs that Fyre would not meet expectations and has been accused of deleting complaints from customers on social media. According to Messer, Jerry Media received a payment of $90,000 in March 2017.
Update: Billboard spoke to a representative for Jerry Media after our story published who says the company only received $30,000 from Fyre Media and was unaware how the trustee determined that $90,000 had been transferred to Jerry Media in March 2017. Reps for Jerry Media provided Billboard a screen grab of a line item in a bank statement showing a $30,000 wire from Fyre Media on March 16, 2017 but were unable to provide Billboard a full bank statement due to legal issues.
Messer also issued subpoena requests for DNA Model Management, which represents Ratajkowski and was paid $299,000 by McFarland in March 2017 as well as subpoenas for some of the artists who were paid to promote or use the Fyre Media app, which was supposed to allow fans to book artists direct without having to go through a booking agent. Messer wants to subpoena Soulja Boy, who was paid $115,000 in August 2016 as well as Waka Flocka Flame who received a $150,000 payment around the same time. Messer is also asking for subpoenas for United Talent Agency, which documents show was paid $90,000 in February 2017, as well as hundreds of thousands spent with cruise ship charter company Landry & Kling, private aviation provider Aircraft Services and pastry chef Ellis Duff.
A number of consultants are also included for subpoenas, such as Raymond Andrews, who is listed as "festival consultant/investor" and was paid $405,800, JP Gutfreund, who was also listed as "festival consultant/investor" and received a $180,000 payment, and LeRoy Archer, the chairman of the Bahamas National Sports Authority. Messer says Archer was paid $100,000 in April 2017, just days before the festival took place.
In total, Messer is seeking answers on $5.3 million payments in the new filing. Earlier this month Messer detailed $1.4 million paid to talent agencies who booked artists for the festival. That includes $250,000 paid to CAA, who represent headliner Blink 182, and another $250,000 paid to ICM Partners, who represented Fyre performers Rae Sremmurd, Migos and Lil Yachty at the time. Windish Agency and AM Only, who had become part of Paradigm at the beginning of 2017, had received $690,000 in payment for acts like Major Lazer and Disclosure, according to reports.
Messer has also asked to subpoena 16 companies tied to staging, travel and food and beverage at the event, representing $4.7 million in payments, bringing the total worth of payments he's investigating to $11.3 million.
In early 2017 Messer was appointed to oversee Fyre Fest's chapter seven involuntary bankruptcy for the $26 million flameout, with guests showing up to Grand Exuma island expecting an over-the-top luxury music festival only to find a half-built site and emergency tents in place of promised luxury villas and high-end hangouts.
McFarland, who is now serving a six-year federal prison sentence after pleading guilty to multiple counts of fraud, kept no accounting records and hasn't complied with bankruptcy court orders for financial accounting of the millions he spent flying back and forth to the Bahamas with rapper Ja Rule, an early backer of Fyre.
McFarland's "failure to file required schedules and a statement of financial affairs has required the Trustee to uncover as much information as he can from third parties in order to gain a full understanding of (McFarland's) financial affairs," Messer wrote in a request to subpoena talent agencies, which was approved Jan. 3.