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Fyre Festival’s trustee hopes Netflix and Hulu can pay some of its debts

Fyre Festival
Searching for cash.
By Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Just when you thought you were done discussing Fyre Festival, bankruptcy court filings reveal that the festival’s estate—which is liable for its outstanding debts—is still looking to get paid.

Trustee Gregory Messer submitted subpoena requests for Netflix and Hulu in an April 15 filing. He wants the streaming platforms—whose dueling documentaries chronicled the luxury music festival’s descent into Lord of the Flies-level chaos—to say where their footage came from, as well as whether it was paid for and who was compensated. That way, he says, the estate can determine if the footage should be considered an asset.

“In order to create the documentaries, both Hulu and Netflix used unique behind-the-scenes footage of the festival,” Messer wrote in the request. “Due to a lack of information, it is impossible for the Trustee to determine where the footage came from and whether such footage was an asset of the Debtor’s estate.”

The subpoena request points out that the source was likely Billy McFarland—now-imprisoned scammer behind the festival—and that he may have been paid for the footage directly. Quoting a January article from the Ringer, the request notes: “Jenner Furst, who co-directed the film with his creative partner, Julia Willoughby Nason, admitted that the production paid McFarland for licensed behind-the-scenes footage and consent to an eight-hour interview.” If the footage is deemed an asset, it will then be determined if any cash paid for it should have gone to Fyre Festival LLC.

Contacted by Quartz, Messer said the subpoena requests filing (pdf) “speaks for itself.” He did not say whether it represents the first steps toward lawsuits (the filing itself does not disclose an intention to sue.) Messer added that his firm would prefer to “resolve it without a lawsuit” but that “we plan to do whatever is necessary.”

Netflix said it had no comment and Hulu did not respond to a request.

This is Messer’s fifth round of subpoena requests, the sixth was filed today (April 17) and includes a request for Stubhub, while the second focused on the $5.3 million paid to modeling agencies that rep the influencers who appeared in the festival’s notorious promo video, including Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin, and Emily Ratajkowski. Kendall Jenner Inc., which was paid a quarter-million dollars for an Instagram post advertising the festival, was also named in that request.

The festival took place in 2017 and burnt through $26 million in cash, including $1.6 million on a private jet and $14.6 million that remains unaccounted for, Billboard reports. Bankruptcy proceedings have been ongoing since then. McFarland is also a defendant alongside rapper Ja Rule in a $100-million class-action lawsuit.

Netflix noted in its first-quarter earnings report yesterday that more than 20 million households watched its Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened in its first month. Hulu hasn’t addressed viewership for its competing documentary.

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