Hat tip to Susie for sending this in from our friends at abcnews.com!
It’s the Spruce Goose of homes — American in its super-sized scope and confusion of styles. And the American Versailles differs from its historic namesake in a few key ways: It’s still under construction, it’s located in Florida, and it includes amenities like a bowling alley.
The American Versailles, if completed, will be, at 90,000 square feet, bigger than a 747 airplane hangar and will hold the distinction of being the largest house in the United States. Other features include nine kitchens, 30 bathrooms and two movie theaters. The home’s mahogany doors and windows alone cost $4 million.
The owners, vacation time-share mogul David Siegel, 77, and former beauty queen Jackie Siegel, 46, said they had originally planned for the home to be smaller.
“We didn’t start out having a 90,000 square foot house. It was more like a normal 60,000 square foot house,” David Siegel said with a chuckle.
“…But then I said, ‘I want a bowling alley,’” Jackie Siegel continued. “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 Siegels offered filmmaker Lauren Greenfield full access to their home, their prickly marriage and some belt-tightening. When the recession hit, construction stopped for four years.
“This is almost like a riches to rags story,” David Siegel said in Greenfield’s documentary, “The Queen of Versailles.”
In an interview with ABC News, Siegel, the billionaire founder of Westgate Resorts, clarified that comment.
“It never became rags … They took that quote out of context and said, you know, ‘riches to rags,’ to appease the 99 percenters who don’t like the 1 percenters,” he said.
The Siegels are now suing Greenfield and others tied to the film for defamation.
“I just wanted the truth to come out. I didn’t want people to … see the movie, and think this is the truth. It wasn’t,” David Siegel told ABC News. “The scenes are totally manipulated, staged. The suit was not to gain monetarily. The suit was so that people would know that it’s not the truth.”
In an interview with ABC News, one example he cited was a scene in the film in which Jackie Siegel rents a stretch limousine for a trip to McDonald’s. David Siegel said that Greenfield actually encouraged his wife to rent the limo.
In a complaint filed in court, Siegel has argued that the film is “defamatory, derogatory and damaging” for “falsely depicting” that his company didn’t pay its bills and for portraying it as “essentially broke and out of business, on the verge of bankruptcy.”
A lawyer for Greenfield issued the following statement: “Lauren Greenfield is a world-renowned documentary filmmaker/photographer, who made this film with the full cooperation and support of the Siegel family. David Siegel is now engaged in a meritless legal and pr campaign, which purely serves his business interests. It is also in direct violation with agreements that Mr. Siegel has signed with the filmmaker.”
Now that business is good again, the Siegels intend to build again.
David Siegel said his Versailles doesn’t feel big.
Asked if he wanted to make it bigger, Siegel replied, “I don’t. I want to make it done.”