Paradigm, CAA, ICM Face Federal Subpoenas In Connection With the Fyre Festival Bankruptcy

The intro to a glossy Fyre Festival promo video.
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The intro to a glossy Fyre Festival promo video.
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The intro clip to a glossy Fyre Festival promo video.

The post-Fyre Festival stink keeps getting worse.  Now, major booking agencies are being subpoenaed.

Major talent and booking agencies are now getting ensnared into bankruptcy proceedings tied to the failed Fyre Festival of 2017.  The flopped festival, now the subject of a just-released Hulu documentary, left thousands of guests, artists and collaborators in the lurch, with organizer Billy McFarland now in prison for financial fraud.

It also left some investors with their pants down, thanks to a complex fraud that looked like a pyramid scheme.  Now, a raft of creditors left high-and-dry are trying to reclaim what they can.

According to requests approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, Paradigm Talent Agency, Creative Artists Agency and ICM Partners will quickly be served subpoenas related to wires from Fyre Festival organizers.  In total, court-appointed bankruptcy trustee Gregory Messer estimates that $1.4 million in wires were sent to booking agencies to secure the participation of key performers.

And what’s the problem with that?

In many cases, upfront costs are required to book marquee artists, and it’s unclear if refunds are required — especially with a breach as big as this one.  But Messer is considering ‘clawing back’ some of the wires, given that most performers never showed up to the ill-fated festival.

At this stage, a course of action has yet to be determined.  And the subpoenas may simply be part of an effort to reconstruct the flow of (millions of) dollars.

Specifically,  Creative Artists Agency LLC, International Creative Management Inc., Windish Talent LLC, AM Only LLC, Paradigm Talent Agency LLC and New Universal Entertainment Agency LLC were all approved to receive subpoenas.  Windish and AM Only are now part of Paradigm.

Given the artists involved and the budgets McFarland was using, none of these amounts are too surprising.

According to Bankruptcy Court filings, CAA and ICM alone received $250,000 in payments in connection with Blink 182 and rappers Rae Sremmurd, Migos and Lil Yachty.  Blink 182 quickly cancelled their gig after sniffing the extreme disaster on Great Exuma; none of the other rappers stepped on a stage.

Windish Agency and AM Only, roped into Paradigm in early 2017, received approximately $690,000 for artists Major Lazer and Disclosure.  Specifically, $447,500 was wired to Windish while AM Only received $242,500.

New Universal Entertainment Agency LLC received $215,000, according to the documents.  The company offers to create “big opportunities that help [artists] align with brands through identifying synergies.”

McFarland, who is currently behind bars, is offering little help in any of this.  Despite millions in outlays and expenditures, a formal accounting has not been found.  In all likelihood, records weren’t even maintained.  That is prompting the detailed subpoena probe, with potentially a dozen more companies facing subpoenas to help reconstruct the financial puzzle.

It’s the perfect mess that promises to keep unravelling for years.

And here’s the trailer for Hulu’s new Fyre Festival documentary.

2 Responses

  1. KM

    Those agencies take deposits for a variety of reasons, one of which is to hold and block the date for the promoter. Once a date is held agents stop looking to procure work for their client on that specific date. By the time McFarland and his fraudulent behavior became evident (hours before or actually during the event) it wasn’t far too late to find replacement work. At that point, deposits would be kept and the performe would be told not to attend due to the dangerous environment created by McFarland. Creditors are barking up the wrong tree. Agencies and artists are victims of this fraud as well.