Photograph: Mark Lennihan/AP
Josh Raab didn’t discover Billy McFarland; Billy McFarland discovered him. Or, moderately, his girlfriend did. In late February, Raab — a contract editor who has labored with Al Gore and Garth Brooks, amongst different celebrities — obtained an modifying question from a stranger named Ana. “Final month 2 documentaries got here out concerning the FYRE FESTIVAL however sadly each misrepresented the actual occasions and Billy wish to share his story,” it learn. Raab’s curiosity was piqued. “In my expertise, in case you write again quick as attainable, you get the job,” says Raab. “I noticed it proper once I awoke and I responded immediately.” She rang him ten minutes later. McFarland, she stated, was writing a ebook, tentatively titled Promythus: The God of Fyre. Did Raab need to hear extra concerning the venture?
The decision would result in a collection of cellphone calls and emails with McFarland himself over the subsequent weeks, giving Raab an in-depth have a look at his comeback plan — particularly, a self-published memoir due out this spring.
Ana is Anastasia Eremenko. She began courting McFarland after Fyre Pageant went down in flames, however claims she didn’t know something about his transgressions after they met. A Russian mannequin, Eremenko is certainly one of her boyfriend’s few remaining advocates within the exterior world. She seems in Hulu’s documentary, Fyre Fraud, studying letters he’s written her from jail. “Billy loves Anastasia,” she says within the movie, pointing to a stack of loose-leaf paper dotted with blue ink that she’d obtained from the Federal Correctional Facility in Otisville, the medium-security jail in upstate New York the place McFarland is serving his six-year sentence for fraud associated to Fyre Pageant. His sentence additionally contains time for promoting pretend tickets to high-profile occasions just like the Met Gala whereas he was out on bail.
Handwritten letters, Eremenko informed Raab, is how McFarland has been delivering pages of Promythus. He writes the pages in longhand and mails them to Eremenko to sort.
Eremenko and Raab, in preliminary emails and cellphone calls, mentioned just a few particulars concerning the ebook venture. McFarland, by Eremenko, stated it might be about 800 handwritten pages value of textual content when he was executed writing. Raab informed Eremenko it might take a few month and a half to edit. Raab says he introduced up signing an NDA and was informed he’d be despatched one. It by no means materialized. As an alternative, Raab was related to Brandon Rubinshtein, a publicist who additionally represents Dennis Rodman by his non-public-facing PR agency, Canine Shit Media. Eremenko, McFarland, and Rubinshtein didn’t provide remark for this story, regardless of repeated makes an attempt to contact them, together with a letter despatched to McFarland.
“I feel Brandon was similar to, sniffing me out,” Raab says. “I gave him a really primary define of my workflow.” Raab handed the scent take a look at. Eremenko informed him to anticipate to listen to from McFarland quickly, warning him to not be alarmed when he obtained a name from a correctional facility.
Over the next weeks, McFarland defined his imaginative and prescient over cellphone calls and emails with Raab. The ebook, McFarland stated, chronicles his profession from the primary funding in a now-shuttered start-up again in 2011 to the FBI paying him a go to days after the competition imploded. Rubinshtein offered Raab with a bullet-pointed, name-dropping checklist of chosen tales, the types of “nice and horrible moments” McFarland deliberate to spotlight. Actors, fashions, musicians, people who find themselves solely well-known as a result of their mother and father are, cameos from members of the Trump administration, the checklist goes on and on. A lot of McFarland’s plan facilities round telling what he calls the “uncooked” story, the story he feels that the Hulu and Netflix documentaries — each launched in January 2019 — failed to totally depict. McFarland was sentenced in October 2018. Rubinshtein informed Raab that McFarland has not seen both documentary.
McFarland has stated he discovered inspiration in Jordan Belfort, who was sentenced to 22 months in jail in 1999 for inventory manipulation. His memoir, The Wolf of Wall Road, was changed into a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio in 2013. He additionally drew a comparability between himself and Molly Bloom, the Olympic hopeful turned underground poker ringleader whose memoir was tailored into an Aaron Sorkin film in 2017.
McFarland is scheduled for launch in 2024 and has been ordered to pay $26 million in restitution. He informed Raab he plans to make use of income from the ebook to assist cowl these prices. McFarland claimed in his emails he’s been struggling to “absolutely come to phrases with” how the collapse of the competition affected the Bahamian individuals however hoped to offer away extra proceeds from the ebook to Bahamians, distributors, and ticket-holders. He additionally stated the organizers spent about $40 million on the competition and that lots of the distributors had been paid greater than sufficient. McFarland stated he’s nonetheless making an attempt to determine the place issues went unhealthy with these distributors, together with MaryAnn Rolle, the restaurant proprietor in Nice Exuma whose look within the Netflix documentary prompted a GoFundMe marketing campaign that raised $200,000 to assist make up her misplaced financial savings.
McFarland stood by his plans to self-publish the ebook on Amazon on the finish of April, in line with Raab. (As of Might three, the ebook has not been launched.) Over electronic mail, he dropped imprecise hints to elucidate the push job. “Placing by way of Wolf of Wall Road, the Pageant won’t be a one and executed occasion — it’s occurring once more, so the unique story will lose the potential to be informed and set the stage if it’s not executed earlier than the subsequent occasions happen.” He didn’t provide any extra info on future festivals.
“I informed myself I’d work on this ebook if Billy was really having this bizarre, monkish expertise,” Raab says. In the end, he informed McFarland he didn’t assume the ebook he’d described can be a “worthwhile addition to the overall dialogue” and declined to work on the venture.
That was, Raab thought, the top. Then, not lengthy after sending that electronic mail, he heard from Brandon Rubinshtein once more. The 2 met on the SLS Resort in Beverly Hills. Rubinshtein continued to speak concerning the venture, Raab says, together with their plan to enlist Andy King to do publicity for the ebook since McFarland is behind bars. King is an occasion producer who reached viral fame for a clip within the Netflix documentary wherein he stated McFarland inspired him to organize to “suck dick” to get water for the competition. (He has subsequently been supplied a number of reality-television offers.) Raab additionally says Rubinshtein made wild claims, like that Ryan Seacrest had visited McFarland in jail to debate plans to buy the identify and remount Fyre Pageant himself. (Individuals near Seacrest stated this was unfaithful.) Raab says Rubinshtein additionally claimed he’d reached out to Walter Isaacson, the author and journalist behind the 2011 best-selling approved biography of Steve Jobs, about engaged on Promythus. He didn’t perceive why Isaacson wasn’t returning his calls. When reached for remark, Isaacson requested who Billy McFarland and Brandon Rubinshtein have been.