The Queen of Versailles is as much about the construction near Orlando of America’s largest single family home as it is about the collapse of the American dream, and real estate.
It’s a story that could very well have taken place in Palm Beach or Miami Beach.
Construction on the 13-bedroom, 23-bathroom, nine-kitchen and two-movie theater crib in Windermere stopped for four years when the owners, the elderly timeshare king David Siegel and his surgery-enhanced much younger wife Jackie, got hit as hard by the recession as any 99 percenter.
At one point, the couple put the unfinished 90,000-square-foot houe on the market for $75 million but there were no takers — despite the $4 million in mahogany doors.
“We didn’t start out having a 90,000 square foot house. It was more like a normal 60,000 square foot house,” the 77-year-old Westgate Resorts owner David Siegel said in a recent ABC News interview.
“But then I said, ‘I want a bowling alley,'” added 46-year-old Jackie Siegel, the mother of eight. “And then he said, ‘Well, I want a health spa.’ You know, so we just kept going back and forth and adding on things.”
The rags-to-riches-to-rags movie has received rave reviews when if first was shown at the Sundance Film Festival. But the Siegels, who loosely modeled the mansion after King Louis‘ Versailles, come out looking like such buffoons that they sued filmmaker Lauren Greenfield for defamation.
One scene that’ll make most viewers cringe: As the family’s fortune hangs in the balance of a failing economy, Jackie Siegel takes her kids to a cheap lunch at McDonald’s — in a limo!