Brokedown Palace

By Dana, Rebecca | Newsweek, February 6, 2012 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Brokedown Palace

Dana, Rebecca, Newsweek

Byline: Rebecca Dana

David Siegel wanted a Versailles. Now he wants revenge.

What angers David Siegel about Queen of Versailles, the riotous documentary about his efforts to build the largest home in America, are not the film's many unflattering depictions of his family. "They want to call my wife a gold-digger because she's 30 years younger than me?" he says. "That doesn't bother me."

What angers the 76-year-old mogul is that the film, which was the toast of this year's Sundance Festival, impugns his business. His specific complaint: the film's promotional materials suggested his 90,000-square-foot Orlando dream house went into foreclosure after his luxury-rental company, Westgate Resorts, "collapsed" in 2009. "It's just one more effort to ridicule and humiliate the 1 percent," says Siegel, who insists his business is booming. He is suing Sundance and the filmmakers for defamation.

Siegel may hate being the butt of a joke, but treating the wealthy with scorn is a treasured American pastime. Newt Gingrich's ridicule forced Mitt Romney to release his tax returns last week. An appetite for humiliation drove sales for Stephanie Madoff Mack's tell-all book last year and made Raj Rajaratnam's insider-trading trial a news sensation. As a weapon in class warfare, derision easily beats occupation.

Which helps explain why Siegel is out for revenge. He tried to stop Sundance from screening the film, "but they cited their First Amendment rights, or whatever," he says. So while fur-coated Hollywood liberals were chuckling at his life, Florida's time-share king was busy litigating. His suit seeks at least $75,000 in damages, though he hopes for millions. The Siegels' unfinished palace, modeled in homage to Louis XIV, is on the market for $75 million.

Beyond the damages, there is a prin-ciple at stake.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Brokedown Palace


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?