The other morning, I unexpectedly woke at 5:30 and could not get myself back to sleep. But thanks to this bout of insomnia, I found a documentary that I had to share with you all. (Does everyone watch movies when they can’t sleep? I am new to sleeplessness.) The Queen of Versailles chronicles three years in the life of timeshare mogul David Siegel and his wife Jackie. When the cameras started rolling, director Lauren Greenfield thought she was going to document the construction of the biggest personally owned home in America. At 90,000 square feet and outrageous cost of $100,000,000, “Versailles” was the stuff of self-made-billionaire dreams. What the director did not know when she started filming in 2008 was that an economic crash was just around the corner for this family and the entire country.
Like so many other Americans, Siegel overextended the real estate ventures he personally and professionally embarked on. And after the very sudden and dramatic collapse of the real estate market and the near death of his business, Westgate Resorts, the fate of the Siegels and the unfinished Versailles is unknown. The cameras keep rolling as assets are auctioned off, private schools are spurned for public ones, and the spending habits of a once-billionaire’s wife finds its only outlet at Walmart. If you’ve got time for a movie this weekend, mix yourself a cocktail, grab some movie snacks and stream this stunning piece of cinéma vérité.