Movie Review: The Queen of Versailles (2012)

Posted: June 1, 2013 in Documentary

queen of versailles

In 2008, David Siegel was a billionaire, a land developer who specialized in the lucrative niche market of selling timeshare properties to mostly middle class people for a week at a time. He founded Westgate Resorts in Orlando Florida, but by far his most valuable office tower was located on the Las Vegas strip. Siegel was 76, his wife Jackie an ex Mrs. Florida beauty pageant winner was 46.  The couple already had one mansion and was working on building another one, a 90,000 square foot concrete behemoth, patterned after the palace of Versailles, outside Paris.  When asked why he would build such a large structure, Siegel answered, “Because I can.”  He even bragged about putting George W. Bush in the White House in the year 2000, when asked how he did that, he declined to answer saying that his tactics may not have been “necessarily legal.”  Then in 2009, the real estate bubble burst on David and Jackie Siegel, his Westgate empire was cut from 12,000 employees to 5,000, creditors were chasing them down to pay their debts, and Versailles was sitting there like a mausoleum, a half-built tribute to overindulgence.  What happens next? Watch this movie and find out.

I love The Queen of Versailles.  The heart of this movie is all about greed, plain and simple.  Not wealth, this is about one man’s avarice. This is a documentary the way it should be, no political axe to grind, it just lets people’s words and actions speak for themselves.  And they speak volumes.

There is not much to like about David Siegel, he is an old letch who bought himself a trophy wife and threatens to trade her in for two twenty year olds.  There is a scene where he visits a Mrs. USA or Mrs. America reunion, and he’s dancing with some ex pageant contestants and ogling some of the younger ones, in front of his wife.  He either handles people as children, or employees, his grown son, from a previous marriage, he treats as an employee, because they have no personal relationship.  Siegel is an unscrupulous man who preys on lower middle class people, using high pressure salesmen to get them to buy, buy, buy, no matter their financial condition.  If you want to know who caused the real estate bubble in the U.S, it’s people like David Siegel, he is addicted to money, he can never have enough, he always wants more.

His wife Jackie is slightly more sympathetic, she does donate some of her excess to laid-off Westgate employees, and she did get an engineering degree and work at IBM, but it’s hard to admire someone who marries a grumpy old cuss, strictly for his money.  She plays the part of a blonde bimbo, complete with plastic body, totally submissive to her gray-haired gravy train.  If you want to sympathize with someone, sympathize with the Siegel’s Filipina nanny, who takes care of the Siegel’s eight younger children, while unable to see her own children for almost 20 years, the pain on her face is palpable. The documentary is incomplete, however.  I had to go online  to find out  what happened to the Siegels.  No matter, the Queen of Versailles is a telling, entertaining slice of America that is rarely seen.

The Queen of Versailles.  King- sized entertainment.


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