America’s Own ‘Versailles’ to Be Completed in 2015
Robert Frank | @robtfrank
David and Jackie Siegel are rebuilding their American dream—23 bathrooms and 13 bedrooms at a time.
After halting construction four years ago on their 90,000-square-foot dream home—called Versailles—just outside Orlando, Fla., the Siegels have started work again. Construction is expected to take about two years and involve hundreds of workers.
The home is slated to have 13 bedrooms, 23 bathrooms, 10 kitchens, two elevators, two movie theaters, a roller rink and a bowling alley. It’s also got a full spa, three pools, a man-made waterfall and a four-story grand ballroom that can host a party for more than 500 guests.
The house, which was once on the market for $100 million, will be the couple’s residence when it’s finished, Siegel said.
“We’re very excited about it,” he told CNBC. “We plan to live there.”
Asked whether they would consider selling, David said “only for a lot of money,” adding that $100 million might prod him.
The Siegels were the subject of a 2012 documentary called “Queen of Versailles,” which documented the couple’s financial roller-coaster ride during the recession. After David’s company, Westgate Resorts, was squeezed by its banks, the company had to lay off thousands of workers and sell off assets.
Construction on Versailles was halted in 2009; the house went into foreclosure and was put up for sale.
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Siegel said that Westgate reported record profits last year and that business is already up 50 percent this year. While the company is far smaller than it used to be—with about $50 million in construction underway compared with more than $2 billion before the recession—he said it is much better-run.
“We were fat, dumb and happy,” he said. “Now we’re lean and mean.”
He’s no longer going to be as reliant on banks, either, he said. “They are there when you don’t really need them, but gone when you do.”
—By CNBC’s Robert Frank. Follow him on Twitter @robtfrank.