The Queen of Versailles

Jackie Siegel in The Queen of Versailles

This was originally meant to be the documentary where we proles got to gawp at the lives of the mega-rich. It’s 2007, and billionaire timeshare mogul David Siegel and his wife, ex-beauty queen Jackie (pictured), are living the American Dream. They give their kids tigers as presents and take the limo to McDonald’s. David confides that he was responsible for getting George Bush elected (but won’t go into detail). Jackie tells us, deadly serious, that they’re bursting at the seams in their 17-bathroom mansion. Not for much longer: the Siegels are building a replica of Versailles in Orlando – with added sushi bar. It will be America’s biggest (and gaudiest) house.

Then comes the financial crash, and it turns out that the Siegels are more like the average family than anyone would have believed. Like plenty of others, they overextended themselves on cheap credit. And, fair play to them, David and Jackie allow the cameras to roll as their fortunes plunge. Versailles is mothballed, staff are let go and the house goes to the dogs (literally, there’s crap everywhere). And as Rome burns, Jackie gets botox. I have to confess to liking her. She’s funny and warm. You could almost be sucked into feeling sorry for her but for director Lauren Greenfield reminding us how the other half live – interviewing the Siegels’ Filipino nanny who hasn’t seen her own son in 11 years. Truth is, Jackie could sell a few pairs of $17,000 Gucci boots on eBay and be richer than most of us. As for this doc, it’s priceless.

Release details

Rated: PG
Release date: Friday September 7 2012
Duration: 101 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Lauren Greenfield
Cast: David Siegel
Jackie Siegel
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