By Lesley Rousso
I decided to give The Queen of Versailles a watch. It’s a documentary made in 2012 by Lauren Greenfield. The film showcases David and Jackie Siegel, the owners of Westgate Resorts, as they build the largest home in the United States. The film, debuted at Sundance in January of 2012 and Lauren Greenfield won top directing honors. I also thought it was a very well made movie, with great editing and music.
That being said, the subjects of the film, the Siegels, are very unique (I’m being nice) people. The documentary begins during the good times, when money is flush and the 90,000 square foot home they are building is about halfway finished. Yes, that’s 90,000 square feet. Apparently the 20,000 some square foot home they live in currently was not big enough for the family of ten. The Siegels have eight children, some assorted nannies and quite a few dogs. Two of the dogs were actually stuffed, yes they were stuffed, after their demise. One is currently under glass and the other lays across the piano. My dogs happen to look like stuffed animals but I still cannot imagine stuffing them after they’re gone. The living dogs in the Siegels’ house relieve themselves all over the place, it’s really disgusting. With all the staff they have, you would think someone would let the dogs out (or at least clean it up!)
The new home will include a bowling alley and spa. Hopefully it has extra closet space, because one tidbit we learn about Jackie is that she is a bit of a hoarder. In one scene, Jackie takes a trip to Walmart. She leaves the store with three carts full, plus a bicycle. The bicycle is then seen being thrown into a pile of no less than a dozen other bikes in the garage. As the cameras roll throughout the house we see piles of junk everywhere.
The whole house is a complete mish mash of crap, unmatching furnishings and insane self portraits of the family in “royal situations”. David Siegel, owner of Westgate is a piece of work all on his own. He’s 30 plus years older than 43 year-old Jackie, and his behavior is cantankerous and cheap (he shuns the family one evening for forgetting to turn off lights and leaving a door ajar). Westgate is a resort time-share company based in Orlando, Florida. The company suffers after the stock market takes a nosedive in October of 2008 and banks stop lending Westgate money. The bank also calls in the loan on the Versailles house. Ironically, the Siegels paid cash for the land and then took out a mortgage to put money into Westgate when things were still financially sound. One bright spot is when Jackie, who is having her own money troubles, loans her childhood friend five thousand dollars so her house won’t be foreclosed on. Sadly, the friend ends up losing the home anyway.
Seeing is believing and QOV is really a film you must watch for yourselves to take in the craziness. Like I said it’s extremely well made and surprisingly riveting. I hope Bravo will continue to air documentaries. I enjoyed the actual “real ness” that the Real Housewives lately seem to lack.
Editor’s Note: Since the writing of this arcticle Jackie Siegel has appeared on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. She stated on the show that Westgate recently had their best financial year yet, Versailles is under construction again, and that she never pays for toilet paper because her husband prefers her to take it from hotels.
Do you think the Siegels need their own reality show? Would you watch? Let us know!