The fascinating documentary about the gaudiest home that will never be.
With the fiscal cliff hoopla happening the past week, it seems my choice to watch the documentary The Queen of Versailles was a wise one. Based on the title you’re probably confused, but this documentary that begins telling a quest for gaudy greed ends up a far more fascinating look at the country’s recession.
Time-share magnate David Siegel lives in a 26,000 square foot mansion with his ex-beauty queen wife Jackie. They have eight children, a large staff to cook, clean, and care for the kids, a whole bunch of dogs that shit all over the house, and no one who picks up the poop. But man is this house too small, so the Siegels have invested in creating a 90,000 square foot home modeled after the French palace Versailles. There’s a balcony that will overlook the Disney World fireworks, a whole wing for the children, a baseball field, bedroom-sized closets, ten kitchens, and 30 bathrooms. It’ll be adorned with the gaudiest of allegedly expensive antiques. They’ll host huge parties for Miss America contestants and fly around the world in their private jet.
Versailles would be the tackiest home ever—except the Siegels got hosed by the economy.
What was initially meant to document the Siegels’ creation of the largest home in America instead turns into an even more compelling tale of the recession. Siegel’s time-share company takes a major hit as financial institutions collapse—the mortgages that were doled out easily before are no longer rolling in. The dream of Versailles has to be put on hold while the Siegels have to adjust to a simpler life (or try to). As David becomes bogged down by the stress of trying to revive his company, wife Jackie is painfully optimistic in ignoring their financial (and marital) state. She tries her hardest, but a shopping spree with thousands of dollars at Walmart is still what we’d consider blowing your money away.
The Queen of Versailles is absolutely one of the best documentaries you’ll watch.
The story of the Siegels is captivating and sometimes frustrating. At times I felt bad for them, but then they’d do something stupid like throw a giant Christmas party and force the nanny to dress as a reindeer. What’s funny is that even at their low point, even when I wanted to shout at the TV at the blissful ignorance of their financial state, I really wanted to see Versailles finished. I don’t think we’ll ever see the home completed, but the story behind the abandoned palace will be one you’ll want to share with everyone. The Queen of Versailles just went up on Netflix Instant as part of their boom of amazing documentaries.
But seriously, rich or poor, there’s no excuse for not cleaning up dog poop. That’s gross.