The Fyre Festival was a disaster in 2017, leading some of the creators of the infamous music festival to do prison time for the $26 million fraudulent event. Now there are new developments as a group of investors want to turn the fest site into a crypto “paradise.”
Ja Rule’s Frye Fest — the Ultimate ‘Millennial Scam’
Ja Rule co-founded the festival with serial entrepreneur-turned-fraudster Billy McFarland. Between the marketing efforts and promotions by the two, more than 5,000 people bought tickets to the weekend-long event. Ticket buyers were promised a luxury experience a private Bahamas island of Great Exuma with nonstop music concerts. It turned out to be far from luxury, with attendees reportedly receiving cold cheese sandwiches and tents to sleep in. The festival concept was created to promote a music talent booking app for Ja and McFarland’s company, Fyre Media.
Great Exuma Revisited
A group of entrepreneurs are looking to create a “luxury crypto community” on the island, composed of 60 properties. Here’s the twist: The homes will only be for sale via NFTs, according to a press release.
AGIA International announced it wants to build a marina, boat dry-storage, a spa and wellness center, a private movie theater, restaurants, and shops, as well as the residential “pavilions and villas” on the site.
“We bought this property because we saw its future, not its past,” said Eric Sanderson, co-founder of AGIA, in the statement. Sanderson has reeled in real estate and crypto folks to join him in the venture.
Based on the AGIA website, other parties involved in the new project include an architecture firm that specializes in building extravagant hotels, the Winklevoss twins’ crypto exchange venture, multiple web3 and/or blockchain marketing companies, and a luxury resort group.
The NFT Cost of Luxury
People who want to buy a property from the project will have to spend $10,000 on minting an NFT first. The $10K is for an entry onto the “Allowlist NFT.” So basically, buyers will be put in a queue to purchase property.
Next, potential buyers will have to mint another NFT — ”Right To Ownership NFT” — equal to the value of the residence or build-site they want. And this won’t be cheap.
One-bedroom pavilions start at $1.5 million. A full, detached home ranges between $2.8 million and $3.5 million, according to the website.
Lastly, buyers get the deed — or “AGIA KEY” NFT — to the property.
The NFT purchases give buyers blockchain access to “new-world ownership [in] real-world paradise,” the promotional materials explain.
The company is also promoting that buyers can now live in “a tax-free haven.”
“Owning in AGIA gives you an expedited pathway to Bahamian permanent residency, along with direct access to one of the world’s most sophisticated offshore banking systems. … In the Bahamas, capital gains, corporate earnings, personal income, inheritance, dividends, resident corporations, partnerships and trusts are all tax-free,” the pamphlet boasts. And, it explains, AGIA residents will be exempt from annual property taxes in the Bahamas.
Some may be suspicious of anything associated with the Frye Festival, even remotely, as well as “land” bought in crypto space. But the company claims it will develop the land.
What does seem to be a PR stunt is the involvement of NFTs. These are real-life properties, not virtual properties, so why the NFTs?
An AGIA spokesperson explained to Gizmodo, “going the NFT route removes the slow-moving, expensive traditional layers [from real estate] including lenders, mortgage brokers, real estate agents and title companies; none of these are required with blockchain technology.”
Is the Land Jinxed?
Prior to the Fyre debacle, the same land was to be used to build something called the Roker Point Estates. The project stalled in 2008 because of the global recession.
Ja Rule and The Fyre Fest
Nearly everyone involved in the doomed festival came under scrutiny including Ja Rule. The veteran rapper was facing a $100 million class-action lawsuit filed by Fyre festival attendees, But a court cleared him of any legal wrongdoing in 2019, saying that plaintiffs failed to prove that Ja Rule’s promotion of the event on his social pages directly led to their ticket purchases.
Ja Rule hasn’t totally let go of his Fye Fest ties. In 2021, he sold an NFT of a painting of the Fyre Festival logo for $122,000, he said on Twitter.
Meanwhile, McFarland faced criminal charges and was found guilty of wire fraud in 2018 and sentenced to six years in prison and a $25 million fine, The Guardian reported.
McFarland Coming Back?
McFarland too seems to be on the scene again after being released from prison. On Oct. 24, he posted a now-deleted TikTok video where he invited viewers to get involved with “something new” he’s working on, Vulture reported.
“It’s a little crazier but a whole lot bigger than anything I’ve ever tried before,” he says. “I promise I’m going to tell you everything in November, but before we get there, there’s one thing you need to know now: This time, everybody’s invited.”
In the video, according to Vulture he pulls down a map on a whiteboard to reveal a phone number. When the outlet texted the number, it reported it received a text reading, “Welcome to the Treasure Hunt! Drop your contact info to come on board.” TMZ followed up and received the following message: “You going to join the ship? Once you add yourself you get the first clue.”