David Siegel came from humble beginnings but found his way to the top through real estate. Then he crashed. Now he's trying to restart and build the largest house in America. The time-share real-estate pioneer, including Park City's Westgate, has built multiple mansions, is on his third wife, and has over a dozen children. These slides follow his successes and failures, as he became incredibly wealthy, as investors left him, and as he struggled back to find solid footing in business and relationships. sources: Business Week
David Siegel grew up the son of a struggling grocer.
He was a former high school wrestling champion, and never finished college. He worked for some time as a TV repairman.
Siegel eventually became a real-estate broker in Florida.
He was at one time approached by someone who wanted to buy property from him to build a time share.
Siegel didn't sell the land, and built a time share of his own.
Siegel didn't mind that many big investors overlooked his company. Second-tier lenders were giving him more money than he needed, and tens of thousands of people were filling his time-shares.
By 1995, Siegel’s first resort in Orlando, Westgate Vacation Villas, had 1,000 apartments and 75,000 owners(see left).
Westgate got great business through referrals from customers.
But that wasn't the only kind of marketing. In 2009, Siegel's time-share company paid a $900,000 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission because of unauthorized phone calls to people on the nation’s “do not call” list.
Business was booming.
left: the Federal Trade Commission.
This 20,000 sq. foot house was completed in 96' at a price of about $35 million.
During construction, Siegel and his second wife of two decades wife began to bicker, and eventually they split up in 97', a year after construction was completed.
left: Palazzo del Lago, Florida.
After a settlement of $200 million and the loss of Palazzo del Lago to his former wife Bettie, Siegel found his third wife, Jackie.
Jackie had a degree in computer engineering technology, was crowned Mrs. Florida in 1993, and had briefly dated Donald Trump. She is 46 and Siegel is 76.
The new couple had seven kids over the span of nine years.
Siegel hasn't become wealthy by misusing money.
According to BusinessWeek, he still asks to take leftovers home from restaurants, wrote "do not remove" on his styrofoam cup at work, and drives a car he got for free.
Company executives gave him a Rolls Royce, but he doesn't drive it very much.
Forbes put Siegel's worth at $1 billion in 2007.
Siegel put it at $1.8 billion.
left: A Forbes article listing American's who are no longer in the Forbes 400, as $1.3 billion became the new minimum.
David Siegel sits on this list.
left: Westgate Resort in Park City, Utah
Siegel's business was growing by about 20 percent a year, and in 2007 it had 28 resorts nationwide, 11,000 villas, and 500,000 owners of those time-shares.
In 2004, Siegel designed what would become Versailles, the biggest house in America, on the back of an envelope during a flight to Las Vegas aboard his jet.
Construction began on the 90,000 square foot house in 2006.
The first step: Move 60,000 cubic yards of dirt into a fake hill, on which the mansion sits.
Versailles is designed to to have 22 bathrooms and 13 bedrooms, along with a tennis court, theaters, and many other amenities.
200 crates of white marble from Italy sit in the 20 car garage.
The eighty foot waterfall has not been built yet, nor has the enormous aquarium that SeaWorld agreed to build.
Jackie said that they got a "great deal" on a Bentley they bought from someone who needed the money.
They had a wide array of animals, some which their staff objected to.
The list included four dogs, three white peacocks, a pig, canaries, and a taxidermied dog.
Company records show that over $6 million has been given to charity.
Jackie, David's third wife, enjoys giving to charities.
David carried the torch before the Utah Winter Olympic games after promising 8,000 survivors of the Sept. 11 attacks a retreat at his Orlando-area properties, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
While Versailles was under construction, Siegel and his family lived in "Seagull Island," a $7 million 26,000-square-foot home.
Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren lived nearby in a home a third the size.
Siegel failed to pay off his mortgages in 2008 and found himself $1.2 billion in debt.
Second-tier lenders that had made Siegel wealthy took control of the company.
Versailles remained unfinished due to the financial struggles.
Siegel's maids and hosuehold staff were let go, including his cheuferr, gardeners, and personal shopper.
The kids began to attend public school.
Construction at Versailles halted.
Left:the half-finished mansion.
The 66,000 sq. ft. house is currently worth $85 million.
Westgate's 12,000 member staff got cut in half, and wages were cut drastically.
Some properties were sold at a loss.
Siegel had to sell some of his most valuable properties, and he and his wife were put on an allowance by their lenders, but the company survived.
Westgate is now significantly smaller, but Siegel has plans to make it big again.
Siegel let documentary filmaker Lauren Greenfield follow them as they built Versailles, and as they went through financial troubles.
He eventually sued her for the film The Queen of Versailles, which he said was defamatory. The film showed at the Sundance Film Festival.
Left: an online film guide to the Sundance Film Festival
Now Siegel has 14 kids that range in age from 5 to 55, and he has nine grandchildren.
Since his financial downfall, Siegel has made claims to avoid debt.
But according to BusinessWeek, Siegel was approved for a $25 million loan to finish the palace he began years ago.
It would be the biggest house in America.
Left: Digital rendering of the house.