Jackie Siegel

The Queen of Versailles

It seems strange to fondly reminiscence about Lauren Greenfield’s fascinating documentary The Queen of Versailles on the verge of another potential American economic collapse, but the filmmaker’s weirdly funny and strangely endearing look at the uber-rich Jackie and David Siegel remains a steadfastly engaging documentary. Oh, and now it’s one with a bit of an update. If you’re in need of a catch up on the film, hop on over to my review of the film from Sundance 2012, or just sit tight for a compact version right here. Greenfield’s doc focuses on the Siegels, incredibly wealthy Floridians who were, at the time Greenfield started filming, best known for their attempt to build the United States’ largest single family residence, one they modeled after equal parts the Palace of Versailles and the top three floors of the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. They sound so fun, right? As the filming process wound on, however, the Siegels (David is founder, owner, president, and chief executive officer of Westgate Resorts, one of the world’s largest real estate and timeshare companies, Jackie is a homemaker) were unexpectedly plunged into dire financial straits (dire, of course, by their measure). While The Queen of Versailles was originally meant to chronicle eye-popping excess wealth in America, it ended up capturing the flipside to economic fat-cat-ness, and it did it with finesse and humor. The film was a hit at Sundance – and the Siegels’ pre-festival campaign and lawsuit against both the festival and Greenberg certainly built buzz […]

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Before screening The Queen of Versailles at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival, the film’s director (Lauren Greenfield) described the film as a story about dreams and what it means to strive for, achieve and potentially lose those dreams. The American dream is built on the idea that you rise past where you began in life and The Queen of Versailles dives head first into this idea taking us inside the lives of Jackie and David Siegel as their incredible wealth affords them the opportunity to build their dream house. Both Jackie and David came from humble beginnings and grew into the owners of the biggest single-family home in America (not that they planned it that way.) David found financial success through his Westgate Resorts timeshare business while Jackie parlayed her good looks into a successful modeling career, eventually winning the Miss Florida title (and David’s heart.) Their dream home, named “Versailles” for its grander and the palace it was modeled after, encapsulated what you give the couple who has everything – a home with a bowling alley, a stadium sized tennis court, a stadium sized baseball field, a health spa (to name just a few of its expansive amenities) and ended up with a home covering enough square footage to be considered a new “land” in the center of dreams and fantasy, Disney World.

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Documentary director Lauren Greenfield (Thin) returned to Sundance with another fascinating slice of American life – the winner of this year’s U.S. Directing Award for Documentary features, The Queen of Versailles is an unexpectedly amusing tale of delusion and disgusting wealth, toplined by a couple of American originals who prove to be wackily riveting. The film chronicles Jackie and David Siegel, incredibly wealthy Floridians best known for their attempt to build the United States’ largest single family residence, one they modeled after equal parts the Palace of Versailles and the top three floors of the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. There is perhaps no other sentence that could so accurately describe what kind of people the Siegels are.

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