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Production company could face $10 mil. hit following Fyre Festival

The saga surrounding the ill-fated Fyre Festival is continuing to haunt the event’s organizers, with an article published last week outlining that a Miami-based production company’s equipment, valued at $10 million, could be auctioned off by The Bahamas government if a customs bill remains outstanding.

The production company, Unreal Systems, spoke to online magazine Amplify, and said it is concerned that it could not only lose its equipment, but equipment it rented from other production houses in order to satisfy the build-out of a world-class stage on Great Exuma for Fyre Festival.

In the article, Co-owner of Unreal Systems Luca Sabatini said the company is waiting for Fyre Festival organizers Ja Rule and Billy McFarland to pony up $390,000 allegedly owed to The Bahamas Customs Department for the equipment that was shipped to Exuma.

“Because the import tariffs have yet to be paid, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism won’t allow Sabatini to ship the equipment back to Florida,” the article noted.

“[This] leaves Sabatini on the hook for all of the audio, visual, lighting and staging equipment that is still in The Bahamas.

“Some of it doesn’t belong to Unreal Systems; it’s equipment the company rented from others to help put on the show, including the entire festival stage. The mobile stage unit, Sabatini said, is top of the line and in demand around the country — so the fact that it can’t be used at other shows right now is costing a lot of people time and money.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest told Guardian Business that he is aware of the matter and the Customs Department is dealing with the situation.

“They were supposed to clear up the situation, at which time they would be able to get their equipment,” said Turnquest. “I haven’t been involved in negotiating it.”

When asked about the risk of the equipment being auctioned to satisfy the customs tariffs owed, Turnquest said “Customs has its rules and will conduct themselves according to those rules.”

The Fyre Festival drew intense media scrutiny after it had to be cancelled. What was to be a high-end music festival with top bands and artists, put on by rapper Ja Rule, devolved into what ticket holders who flew to Great Exuma described on social media as a “deserted island”.

Fyre Festival is facing a series of lawsuits, one brought by law firm Greenspoon Marder in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida “on behalf of all ticket purchasers defrauded and wronged by the organizers of Fyre Festival”.



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