Billy McFarland gained notoriety after the failed luxury music festival known as Fyre Festival. Is he related to the “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane?
Billy McFarland is not related to Seth MacFarlane. Although the pair share a striking resemblance and somewhat similar last names, they do not share a familial link.
Although it may have been helpful for Billy McFarland to have some celebrity family strings to pull when he got into hot water for the disastrous Fyre Festival, that was not the case. Instead, he made a name for himself through fraud and trickery.
How the Rumor Began
Earn the Necklace reports that Google Trends saw a sharp increase in Google searches for the query, “billy mcfarland seth macfarlane related” once two documentaries covering Fyre Fest were released in 2019.
The rumor that the two men were related appears to have originated on Reddit after someone watching the documentary noted that the pair shared a striking resemblance.
You can compare the two for yourself, with Seth MacFarlane pictured above in an Instagram post and Billy McFarland featuring in a Bloomberg Quicktake YouTube video, as he does not have an Instagram account.
Although the two may share a passing resemblance, that is where the similarities end. Seth MacFarlane has no relation to the convicted felon Billy McFarland — their last names are not even the same!
Fyre Festival and Subsequent Documentaries
Fyre Festival became an internet sensation for being the most luxurious new music festival and then shortly quickly thereafter became an internet sensation for being a disaster.
The notorious festival was the brainchild of Billy McFarland, inventor of other enterprises such as Magnises, an elite payment company, and reported friend of Anna Delvey, subject of a now-infamous article in The Cut.
Fyre Festival was the ultimate party that never happened.
The music festival was marketed as a luxury retreat where attendees could stay in elegant accommodations and consort with celebrities and influencers. When it actually happened, it was chaos.
Fyre Festival was ridiculously underfunded for the massive undertaking and costs involved in putting on an overseas luxury festival. Still, Billy McFarland and his team continued to sell tickets, marketing the festival as the ultimate party experience.
By the time that the festival was supposed to be complete, it was still nowhere near ready for the number of guests set to arrive. According to a source from The Cut, a member of the marketing team said of the impending disaster, “Let’s just do it and be legends, man.”
Vulture reports that the luxury accommodations were transformed into disaster housing.
A viral tweet from the festival sums things up well — a middle school cafeteria sandwich for dinner.
Although it was not the end of the world, guests who paid thousands for a luxury festival were not happy. People began calling Fyre Festival a scam.
Billy McFarland and associates were hit with multiple class-action lawsuits, alleging fraud and attempting to ban them from doing business in the Bahamas again, among other things. They were ultimately sued seven times.
In a follow-up from ABC News, Billy McFarland was sentenced to six years in federal prison after being convicted of defrauding investors for $26 million.
The festival also resulted in two separate documentaries being made about the ordeal, one on Netflix called “Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened” and one on Hulu called “Fyre Fraud.” Vanity Fair reports that both documentaries were released in 2019.
Netflix’s documentary focused primarily on the timeline of events behind the scenes that allowed the disastrous festival to take place. In contrast, Hulu’s documentary focused more on social commentary and placing the festival within a cultural context.
Fyre Fest was not the only time that Billy McFarland landed himself in hot water for one of his business ventures.
Notably, Billy McFarland also created a black-card-styled club called Magnises. The card wasn’t an actual black card, but just duplicated one’s credit card strip onto a more stylish design.
Still, members of the Magnises club were given the opportunity to network at extravagant parties and other luxury experiences, as reported by Fortune.
However, controversy followed. Investors complained that they were not paid, and it was unclear whether the company’s income came from memberships or from brand-sponsored events.
Eventually, things such as tickets purchased through the company going unfulfilled and vacations booked through Magnises being canceled last-minute lead to bad press and claims of fraud on Billy McFarland’s part, casting doubt on the company’s legitimacy.
It seems as if Billy McFarland promises extraordinary things, but they don’t typically turn out to be unforgettable in a good way. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristy Greenberg appears to corroborate, saying he exhibits the “same pattern of fraudulent behavior.”