There are many stories from the recent economic collapse of families tragically losing everything they had worked so hard for. But then there is the story of the Seigel family: David Seigel is a billionaire and the head of the largest time share empire in the world, and his wife Jackie a former Mrs. Florida and their eight children.
They also lost a lot in the recent economic crisis but it is hard to feel sorry for them. Just before the collapse the Seigel family was building the largest private home in America at 90,000 square feet. After the collapse of not only the economy but also David’s business, the house (only half finished) went on the market for 75 million dollars and the Seigels went on a "budget".
There is a lot of comedy to be found in this situation as the family must cook their own meals, raise their own children and even shop at Walmart. Yet through all this Jackie Seigel is sort of an inspiration. While her husband buried in work to save his business, she must soldier on with that cosmetically enhanced smile on her face trying to keep up appearances all the while learning some harsh lessons on real world economics. It is easy to laugh at the rich now dealing with a reality most people have lived their whole lives with, but the filmmaker Lauren Greenfield treats the family with respect and doesn’t set out to embarrass them.
The film manages to distill down everything that was happening to the country and most of the world into the lives of this one family. Easy access to money and credit was the folly of the rich and poor alike as David explains how even though he had the money to pay cash for nearly everything, it made more sense to mortgage their property and reinvest the cash into the business. A business that was also based on easy access to credit through the banks, allowing middle class America to buy a time share and get a taste of the life the Seigel family exemplified.
The Queen of Versailles
Directed by: Lauren Greenfield
Produced by: Danielle Renfrew Behrens & Lauren Greenfield
Written by Jason Poynton
Jason works on his feet all day, so when he gets some downtime his greatest joy is to settle in at a movie theatre and see a couple movies back-to-back, or in the the case of film festival season race around the city and see four or five in a day. Of course after the movies it’s time to eat and drink and talk it out with some friends.