I love seeing photos of celebrity real estate and interior design. To me, they’re like shirtless photos of hot guys, they fuel fantasies of living in those pristine, decked out mansions. Or, like in the case of tacky houses like Nicky Hilton’s, it’s fun to point and laugh at rich people with bad taste. That’s the case with this latest story on a new documentary on the world’s largest mansion under construction, a giant eyesore in Florida dubbed “Versailles.” While the nouveau riche owners were constructing it, while filming was underway, they ended up losing a lot of money after the market crashed and facing the possibility that they were in way over their heads. The mansion remains to this day just a giant, gaudy shell of a house. (You can see tons of photos of it here. The few photos where it looks super gaudy and finished are just “artist’s renditions” of what they intended to do with it.) The film ends with their insane house still under massive construction and facing foreclosure. Now the homeowners, the owners of the biggest timeshare company, want the filmmaker to edit it in order to show that they’ve since recovered control of the home. The filmmaker isn’t backing down, though. Here’s more:
The timeshare tycoon who wants to build the biggest home in the country — America’s very own Palace of Versailles — claims an upcoming documentary about his exploits is misleading.
And because of that, Westgate Resorts President David Siegel wants the director of “The Queen of Versailles” to tweak the ending.
In a letter obtained by TheWrap.com, Siegel wrote to director Lauren Greenfield’s attorney that his real estate company is currently healthy and “the most profitable” in its 32-year history.
He said he’s having no problem finishing construction of the palatial 90,000-square-foot mansion on 10 acres in Windermere, Fla.
Today’s economic troubles served as a backdrop for the film’s drama.
“Versailles does not face foreclosure because it was refinanced, and construction is starting again,” Siegel wrote in a letter dated Monday.
He’s asking the filmmaker to update the postscript with that information.
“As it stands now, it’s like ending an account of a basketball game after the third quarter,” he added. “I believe that it’s only fair that (Greenfield) complete the story honestly and with integrity.”
Siegel, 76, also has a lawsuit against Greenfield, executive producer Frank Evers and the Sundance Institute for alleged defamation, claiming the documentary contains harmful statements, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Those include: “Their timeshare empire collapses” and “their house is foreclosed.”
The documentary first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and opens in limited release Friday. Cable TV network Bravo is supposed to air it in 2013.
Siegel, meanwhile, also contends that some of the scenes were orchestrated, with the whole documentary coming off as a “Real Housewives of Orlando pilot,” he wrote.
But Martin Garbus, the director’s attorney, told TheWrap.com that the film will not be changed.
“It tells a story about a time in America and everybody should see it and make their own judgement (sic),” Garbus said in a statement. “Nothing in The Queen of Versailles is staged. There is no reason to update the film.”
The documentary also features Siegel’s 46-year-old wife, Jackie, and the eight children they are raising together.
Construction on Versailles began about six years ago, but work was halted in 2009 after Siegel said he had to refocus on his company, the Wall Street Journal reported. Just two-thirds of the home was completed.
In the meantime, Siegel looked into selling the opulent stunner — at one point dropping the asking price from $100 million finished or $75 million as-is to $65 million as-is.
Siegel was recently approved for a $25 million loan to help finish construction, according to reports, after the documentary completed filming.
And with 13 bedrooms, 22 bathrooms, three pools, two movie theaters, a bowling alley, a ballroom for 500 guests and Italian white marble in the designs, Siegel isn’t exactly motivated to sell the house, he told The Journal last week.
“Then again, I don’t need it, either,” he added.
[From The NY Daily News]
There are photos below of the home as it is now (as I gather), under construction – I guess the Seigels are shown in their other giant mansion while this one is getting prepared. They needed a $25 million loan to finish it and that think that somehow means they’re not in too deep? I found several real estate listings for this “house.” It has its own website, Lake Butler Mansion, and it’s also listed on PriceyPads.com, which has a link to over a hundred photos of the place. Inside, it just looks like a big cathedral or a public building under construction. It’s just a tacky, overpriced dream. It reminds me of Candy Spelling’s house, but she was able to offload that one to a young heiress with gaudy taste. Candy also had much better, albeit early 90s, taste in decor. What billionaire would drop $65 million on this monstrosity or pay $100 million to get it completed? The Seigels are stuck with it.
Here’s the trailer for The Queen of Versailles
Photo credit: Magnolia films