Maryann Rolle was undoubtedly the heart of the Netflix documentary about the disastrous Fyre Festival in 2017, breaking viewers’ hearts as she fought back tears while revealing she had lost her $50,000 of her life savings due to Billy McFarland’s ill-thought out scheme.
The Bahamaian restaurant owner, who runs the Exuma Point Bar and Grille, has finally received justice since a crowdfunding campaign has now raised over $158,000 (£122,000) for her to rebuild her life after she was forced to pay staff catering for festival goers from her own pocket.
The news comes as rapper Ja Rule finally issued an apology to Maryann for his part in the Fyre Festival debacle following his business partnership with McFarland – but his words fell on deaf ears since the caterer is demanding the hip-hop star pay her $100,000 in compensation.
After initially hitting out at his critics, Ja Rule took to social media to share a screengrab of Maryann alongside an apology.
Ja wrote: ‘My heart goes out to this lovely lady… MaryAnne Rolle we’ve never met but I’m devastated that something that was meant to be amazing, turn out to be such a disaster and hurt so many ppl… SORRY to anyone who has been negatively effected by the festival… Rule’.
However, his Twitter followers were quick to question whether he had donated any money to the cause himself.
‘So about that big paycheck you’re about to write to her’, one joked, while another queried, ‘Funny I don’t see you name on here [GoFundMe page]’.
Maryann certainly agrees with the public sentiment, telling TMZ she thinks Ja Rule should fork out $100,000 if he is truly sorry.
The restaurant owner says she still needs money to pay her employees and her bills.
A GoFundMe page has been launched on behalf of Maryann and includes a message of ‘appeal for help’ after she was left in a ‘big hole.’
‘It has been an unforgettable experience catering to the organizers of Fyre Festival,’ she said on the post. ‘Back in April 2017 I pushed myself to the limits catering no less than a 1000 meals per day.
Rolle shared that during the hectic festivities, her team delivered various meals throughout the day from Exuma Point to Coco Plum Beach and Roker’s Point. She also detailed how the organizers of the festival also stayed at the rooms at Exuma Point and enjoyed multiple meals there, as well.
She continued: ‘As I make this plea it’s hard to believe and embarrassing to admit that I was not paid…I was left in a big hole! My life was changed forever, and my credit was ruined by Fyre Fest.
‘My only resource today is to appeal for help.
‘There is an old saying that goes “bad publicity is better than no publicity” and I pray that whoever reads this plea is able to assist.’
Rolle’s heartbreaking story was highlighted in Netflix’s Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.
Both the documentary and Hulu’s Fyre Fraud mention that Billy McFarland’s careless actions and dealings surrounding the festival had tremendous impact on the people on the island and their economy.
In the documentary, Rolle said: ‘I had ten people working with me directly. They were just preparing food all day and all night, 24 hours.
I had to pay all those people. I went through about $50,000 of my savings that I could have had. They just wiped it out, and never looked back.’
Many people sympathized with Rolle’s story and wanted to know how they could help the woman.
Gabrielle Bluestone, an EP for the Netflix documentary, shared the GoFundMe on her Twitter.
‘For those of you asking how to help Maryann Rolle, the Bahamian woman who spent $50,000 of her savings to feed the local laborers who worked on the Fyre Festival, she has an official gofundme page,’ said Bluestone.
A federal judge sentenced the creator of the highly publicized, failed Fyre Festival in the Bahamas to a six-year prison term in October 2018.
McFarland, 27, pleaded guilty earlier last year to charges related to swindling investors in the 2017 Fyre Festival in the Bahamas out of $26 million, in addition to cheating customers out of over $100,000 in a ticket scam.
McFarland’s sentence was imposed collectively for all of the following, according to a statement released by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York:
One count of wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud investors in Fyre Festival; one count of wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud a ticket vendor for the Fyre Festival; one count of wire fraud, in connection with his operation of a separate sham ticket scheme in which he purported to sell tickets to exclusive events; one count of bank fraud for writing a check with the name and account number of one of his employees without authorization; and one count of making false statements to a federal law enforcement agent in which McFarland, among other things, falsely denied the wire fraud and bank fraud conduct to which he pled guilty.
The Fyre Festival was a concert that was heavily promoted by McFarland as scheduled to take place over two weekends in April and May of 2017, but hopeful concert-goers arrived to no such event.
Following his guilty plea for the Fyre fraud scheme in March, McFarland pleaded guilty to additional fraud crimes in July, including a $100,000 scheme where he sold fake tickets to the Met Gala, Emmy Awards and a Cleveland Cavaliers game that included a lunch with Lebron James.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Kate Thomas and Matthew Wright