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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.

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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.

queen of versailles

Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures; Lauren Greenfield

14 Responses

  1. Briana@HGTV says:

    Wow. I have to see this now. Adding to my queue!

  2. RSS says:

    Looks like an interesting piece. I want to see this now.

    • Luanne says:

      I remember when my parents use to take me to westgate for vacation, and my dad use to show me David Siegel picture, and he would tell me this man own Westgate. I always thought as a child that this was a wonderful thing David did creating Westgate. I felt special everytime my parents took me to Westgate. I would watch this movie.

  3. Abe in Texas says:

    I will watch this.

  4. [...] Versailles: Put This Movie in Your Queue HGTV Design Happens Fri, January 11, 2013 9:45 PM UTC HGTV Design Happens Rate Share (function(){var [...]

  5. Danielle2501 says:

    I wonder if they have Easy to use spindles – easyChanger

  6. B Smith says:

    These people use this multimillion dollar house as a doggy park. Disgusting.

  7. K. Diedrich says:

    When there are people in America needing health care and food this is so wrong on so many levels it would take more space than you have available to comment. This woman is no partner and her family does not seem very happy. Comforted by largess but not happy. What were they thinking?!

  8. Sandrags says:

    This is a great documentary about greed. David Siegel is a miserable power mongrel who equates happiness with over the top possessions. He is a sad specimen when it all comes crumbling down. I am curious about where this family is now. Jackie seems to be a survivor.

  9. Dani says:

    I stayed at Westgate twice, in Orlando, and it was beautiful and my family and I had a great time. So sad about Mr. Siegel's fiancial woes after all that hard work. Who the heck needs to live in a house THAT size? That was just sick and stupid. Had he saved that money instead of building that ridiculous house, he may have wheathered the real estate market ok.

  10. Pam W says:

    I enjoyed the documentary. He built his wealth, he deserved it. He also made poor choices. So the fact that he lost it was just rewards. It would be interesting to see what his children did learn from this. I was surprised that she seemed to deal with it – while he became a sorry excuse for a father. She needs to learn what conservation is, and I am curious how much they are living on now. Probably still enough to make most of us very comfortable.

Lili ZarghamiLili is Editorial Director of HGTV.com. Her personal obsessions include looking for just the right sofa, ogling real estate listings, and reading floor-plans. She has an admitted "chair problem," collecting...


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