The CEO of the failed Blended Festival claims he’s not a fraud and that his event’s Instagram page was “hijacked,” as dozens of vendors and artists remain unpaid after his disappearance.
The wine and music festival was set to rotate through four cities this year, but it only made it to Nashville before Sean Evans went off the grid, declining to answer texts and emails and at one point saying he’d had a “heart attack.”
In an email to staff on Nov. 14, Evans pushed back against claims that he made off with the money collected from wineries, sponsors, and fans as well as the money still owed to artists, some of whom had already made travel plans for this year’s planned dates in Austin, San Diego, and Tampa.
“I have in no way acted fraudulently nor have I benefited in any way from the disaster, quite the opposite,” he said in an email to employees and contractors obtained by Page Six.
Evans added that his festival’s “social media accounts were, and still are, illegally hijacked… seemingly as an attempt to frame me as a fraud in the media.”
He blamed “one, or perhaps even several individuals [who have] decided to use their desperation to justify committing potentially criminal acts against the company. Their choices have unfortunately resulted in alienating one of the potential buyers who would have provided funding that would have resulted in a positive outcome for everyone.”
Earlier this month, The Daily Beast spoke to some of Evans’ previous business associates and contractors, including some who were stiffed by the canceled Blended dates. They revealed a history of unkept promises and untidy finances. A former business associate who once sold Evans a cheer gym in California said that cheer teams would show up to competitions only to be turned away, presumably because Evans hadn’t paid the organizers. One former employee called him “charming and manipulative.”
For the Blended Festival, a winery in Austin said they paid $10,000 for a top-tier “title sponsorship.” They still haven’t heard from anyone connected to Blended as of Monday morning.
The festival’s Instagram page is run by a third-party contractor. On Nov. 2, the account informed ticket buyers that Evans had been “absent” as of Oct. 1 and that the festival couldn’t go on without him. The post included an email from Evans informing employees that his companies were “dissolving and ceasing business” while they look for a buyer. He also told them to refrain from talking to anyone about the festival “as you could potentially implicate or present yourself or the company in the wrong manner.”
Blended’s ticket seller, Events.com, has begun issuing refunds for ticket holders. Prices ranged from $50 to more than $200 for VIP, several potential festival goers told The Daily Beast.
Evans’ whereabouts are still unknown. A comment from Blended’s Instagram posted two weeks ago claimed the festival organizer was “spotted getting into a blue Tesla in San Diego this past weekend.” Page Six reports that he was recently spotted at the Wonderfront Festival in San Diego, which ended on Nov. 20.
Evans did not respond to multiple phone calls from The Daily Beast. The Austin Police Department and the FBI did not immediately respond to questions from The Daily Beast about possible investigations into Evans or the festival.