Jump to content
rllmuk
Sign in to follow this  
dumpster

The Queen of Versailles (bad title, but excellent documentary) iPlayer

Recommended Posts

This would have totally passed me by had it not been recommended to me because the title doesn't really give you any information. The Queen of Versailles is on the iPlayer. It is probably best that you go in blind so here's the outline  but if you think you fancy it, stop reading because even the basics get into spoiler territory.

 

So one of the things I really like about documentaries is when the film starts about a subject but then something happens midway through filming that makes the documentary take a different turn. We've seen it with the Louis Theroux meets the Hamilton's, which suddenly takes a strange turn as the Hamilton's get involved in rape allegations and accusations of improper behaviour at sex parties. Or The Jinx, where a businessman confessed to murdering loads of people without realising he was still wearing his clip-on microphone. 

 

This documentary follows the life of David Siegel, and his heavily cosmetically enhanced wife, their many children, their massive house and staff, and their business selling timeshare in Las Vegas. It's an insight into the life of the mega rich but what makes the documentary really outstanding is that it happened to begin filming

...

 

 


just before the 2008 financial crisis. What this means is a documentary that starts off as a look at the life of the wealthy, suddenly becomes a fascinating insight into how quickly everything can come tumbling down when the cheap money dries up. One of the main takeaway messages from this documentary is that if you have the nerve and the confidence to be running a company that is in millions of pounds worth of debt to the banks whilst also paying yourself a huge million-dollar salary, you can be living the lifestyle of the super wealthy, with very little actual cash in the bank.
 

 

 

There's a hell of a lot more to take away from the film  but I don't want to spoil anything. However when the kids

 

 

 


accidentally let all the pets die because they don't realise that they no longer have a nanny to feed the pets for them,

 
 

 

this becomes just one aspect of how a family that is so

 

 

 


wealthy just doesn't seem to understand how to do the basics when that money is taken away from them.  The relationship between the family, the staff, the friends... Everyone in the documentary provides their own angle on what you're watching and it's fascinating. 

 

It's very noticeable how whenever the wife shows something about her house she always mentions the price tag. They have individual windows that cost more than I'll ever earn. And when the money dries up you can see the relationship between the once-wealthy husband and the "trophy wife" (quote from her daughter there) take a strange turn. The wife buys lavish christmas gifts for the children, (including a new bike which immediately gets thrown onto the pile of 50 other new bikes when they get it home), well the husband moans at the whole family for leaving too many lights on. The wife maintains that she loves her husband and if they have to go and live in an ordinary suburban house then so be it, well I don't think she would last a week. at one point she explains how she never wanted more than two children, until she married David and realised how much easier life would be now they had a nanny, so she continued to have loads of children because each one is a little bundle of joy. Then when the money runs out they have to hire the nanny and you can see how she has no parenting skills whatsoever.


 
 

 

This documentary was not on my radar and doesn't look like anything I would have had the slightest interest in but it's extremely watchable and very very educational. It is strange to think that somebody who is a billionaire can find himself nagging the children to stop leaving the lights on in such a short space of time. however it's very difficult to feel empathy for the family when you look at their businesses sales techniques.  The timeshare resorts offer free Disney tickets to anybody that will sit through their sales presentation, but it's an incredibly hard sell. During a morning meeting of the salespeople, they are told how by selling time shares they are actually saving lives. 100% of timeshare sales are made on the day where most of the customers have only attended to get their free Disney tickets.

 

Your thoughts?

  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I saw it several years ago and remember it being fascinating, but can remember nothing else about it. Probably worth a rewatch.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember seeing it at the cinema when it came out. Think it was 2012 based on who I was dating at the time? I remember enjoying it a lot, I actually felt really sorry for them by the end despite their hubris.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a bit that's just an overheard conversation with David Seigel, where he's discussing how ridiculous the situation has become with the banks. The bank wants to foreclose because he owes them 18 million dollars. But the financial crash means that the banks are also interested in selling on their debts wherever possible. Seigel employs a third-party to approach the bank. That person buys the debt off the bank for Seigel, for 3 million. I found that unbelievably fascinating, the shrewd bit of business thinking could save him more money than I will ever earn, instantly.  The person that he's telling the story to can't believe what they're hearing either and congratulates David on his business acumen. David replies, "well, we're not out of the woods yet, we still owe them 3 million". It's like a peek into the lives of the rich and famous, and they really do live in a different world to everybody else. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know one of the daughters died but I saw the wife last year on Below Deck, which is a reality show on Bravo basically where rich people charter a yacht, Amd Jackie has not changed one bit. I remember reading that the husband made a lot of his money by scamming people

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Proper cringed at "what's the name of my driver?", I mean really? She was poor for longer than she's been rich, is it really that hard to remember what real life is like?

 

Also, who else thought she was phoning Tina to ask for the cheque back at the end? :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's 'The Princess of Versailles" on YouTube, it seems to be a self made movie about her daughter's death.  It's hard going, but David comes across as a very changed man.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Loved this, great recommendation dumpster.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, watched this last night. I see Siegal tried to sue the filmmakers for defamation but it was dismissed. He had to pay them $750,000 which can't have helped his financial woes.

 

The most heartbreaking part was the Philipino nanny talking to camera about how she treated the kids like her own, then mentioned she hadn't been able to visit her own kids for years and years.

 

@dumpster you've recommended some good stuff during lockdown.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you enjoyed this, then worth giving The Countess and the Billionaire a watch. Similarly, there is a tonal shift part way through which changes the dynamic of proceedings. Again, its an illuminating insight into the lives of the rich and morally dubious. One of my main memories of The Queen of Versailles was how utterly shabby and mundane Siegal's preferred living room was; shitloads of paperwork all over the place and he had this sorry existence sitting there, alone, pouring over the details of his depleted empire. 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.