2012-09-21 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

MovieScope

“THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES” – ICARUS DESCENDING
By Robert Snyder

Lauren Greenfield is a great director. In her documentary, “The Queen of Versailles,” she actually makes you feel sorry for the supperduper rich.

The billionaires under camera’s eye are the Siegels, David and Jackie, so bloated with money they commence a quest to build the biggest house in America.

But not for long. The 2008 Recession sees to that.

When the film opens in 2007, the Siegels are riding high, shooting for the sun.

Once a nobody from Indiana, David struck gold in the time-share business. His Westgate Resorts consists of 28,000 properties, with the jewel in the crown a skyscraper in Las Vegas, coveted by Donald Trump himself.

Former model, 30 years his younger, wife Jackie is an obsessive consumer, whose spending knows no bounds. Having filled her current Orlando mc-mansion with eight kids, multiple pets, 19 servants and piles of stuff, she sets her sights on her new 90,000 square-foot palace, under construction with 17 bathrooms, 10 kitchens, pools, health spas, you name it. Modeled after Marie Antoinette’s Versailles, it’s almost as opulent and equally as ill-fated. Cut to September, 2008, and President George W. Bush sound bite: “We have a problem.” The real estate market collapses, along with Wall Street. The Siegels are in free fall. He fires 7,000 employees. She sacks 15 servants. Their homes head to foreclosure, as does his time-share properties, including the big plum in Vegas. Up until now, the Siegels seem like nice people. Jackie still is, sweet in her naiveté. She takes a limo to Wal- Mart, flies commercial, rents a car, asking “What’s the name of my driver?” David becomes bitter and broke, refusing to accept bankruptcy. In fact, he apparently doesn’t appreciate the way he appears in the film. He is suing the filmmakers for defamation of character.

Still, how can you not feel for the Siegels?

From such astronomical heights, they have sooooo far to fall.

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