Owner of Bahamian Restaurant Stiffed by Fyre Festival Gives Thanks for Donations
It took Maryann Rolle her entire life to save $50,000.
It took Maryann Rolle her entire life to save $50,000. By the week the infamous Fyre Festival descended on the Bahamas over two weekends in April and May 2017, it was gone. Now, she has emerged as the unexpected hero of Netflix’s documentary, “Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.”
"I had 10 persons working directly with me. Just preparing food all day and all night. 24 hours. I had to literally pay all those people. I am here as a Bahamian. And they stand in my face everyday. I went through about $50,000 of my savings that I could've had for a rainy day and they just wipe it out and never looked back,” Rolle said in the documentary.
The film lays out the timeline for the doomed festival experience and illustrates how it went from an idea, to reality, to the "greatest party that never happened."
Maryann and Elvis Rolle own the Exuma Point restaurant, where many festival attendees were dumped once they got to the island — while organizers scrambled to figure out where they were going to lodge the guests they'd overbooked.
The Rolles weren't even the event's official caterers, but Maryann said they got involved with the festival so they could also reap some of the economic benefits they thought it would bring to the island. Organizers turned to them for catering after blowing through their food budget.
"They found favor with me at the last minute it was too late to switch the caterer, so I just continued to feed the staff," Maryann told InsideEdition.com
What the documentary doesn't mention is that Fyre Festival staff also stayed in the couple's five cottages.
"They also owe us for the cottages, which we never put in. Only for the staffing with the food. Yes. That was a total of $47,000 that the Fyre Festival had signed an agreement with me to pay," the couple said.
Nearly two years later, the Rolles say they haven't heard a peep from anyone connected to Fyre Media or the festival.
They aren't alone.
"A lot of people didn't get paid. A lot of my workers didn't get paid. He kept on saying ‘J.R., the money is coming.’ But the money never reached,” Bahamian festival employee J.R. stated in the documentary.
It is estimated that locals who built the site were never paid. For their labor working around the clock to finish the site, Fyre racked up an estimated $250,000 tab. J.R. said he had to move out of his home to avoid threats to his family.
Rapper Ja Rule helped promote the event, along with founder Billy McFarland.
In a flurry of tweets, Ja Rule maintains that he was also scammed and lost lots of money.
McFarland plead guilty and was sentenced to six years in federal prison for defrauding investors and running a separate business selling fake concert tickets.
Bloomberg reported that McFarland acknowledged wrongdoing during his sentencing in October 2018, saying, "I can't believe how wrong I was. I can't believe how stupid I was. I betrayed the trust of my investors, customers, family and the court. My mistakes were severe and they hurt a lot of people."
His lawyer, Randall Jackson, argued McFarland committed the crimes because of an undiagnosed mental disorder, which led to mania and possible delusions of grandeur.
"I think that it's good that he's paying for all the wrong that he has done to the Exumians here in the Bahamas, but I still feel he has a price to pay. He must pay those hard working people. They literally worked around the clock," said Maryann.
The Rolles would like to put the whole experience behind them. Thanks to the internet, they’ll get to press reset.
On Jan. 14, a GoFundMe was started to help the couple get back on their feet.
More than $140,000 has been donated so far.
"It's more than we thought it would be. We know we did a great job. We work hard and it's just awesome. It's overwhelming for us to know that people all over the world was touched by the story. And I am so thankful for it. It just brings tears to see how everybody poured out a heart of love."
Maryann added, "I thank God for it and I wanna bless some people here that are hurting on our islands and our country at large and help some people who I know has worked hard and contribute."
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