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There aren’t many castles in the United States, but the American version of Versailles, named after the French palace, is under construction. This monster mansion is set to be 90,000 square feet, larger than the Washington National Cathedral, but smaller than the baseball field at San Francisco’s AT&T Park.
If you’re sitting in a 500-square-foot apartment, please try not to get too upset. If it makes you feel any better, construction has been suspended on Versailles for three years, ever since funding for owner David Siegel’s company, Westgate Resorts, failed as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis and the subsequent recession. The property has been put up for sale and the price was reduced from $75 million to $65 million. There is no buyer yet; it’s a tough time to sell any real estate, let alone multi-million dollar construction projects. The house doesn’t look all that glamorous in its current state at about 60% complete, surrounded with a chain-link fence. The Italian marble for the façade is still in crates inside the 20-car garage. There are no interior walls, plumbing, or electricity.
Everything about the plans for the massive home screams extravagance: the concrete building will be covered in Italian marble, the window frames and 20-foot tall doors are made of Brazilian mahogany that can no longer be exported, plans call for a giant aquarium by Sea World, two movie theaters, one indoor pool, three outdoor pools, and staff quarters. The house will have 13 bedrooms, 22 bathrooms, and nine kitchens (there must be a lot of staff quarters if there will be enough staff to work in nine kitchens). There will be a great room, planned for hosting charity events, that is 120 feet by 60 feet (bigger than the median U.S. home). The 45-foot ceiling will feature a 6-foot-tall stained glass dome looking down on a room that can hold parties for 500 people. There will be staircases sweeping down two walls, so that Siegel and his wife, Jackie, could fulfill Jackie’s dream of synchronized stair-descending, one on each staircase.
This isn’t the first monster mansion that Siegel has designed and built. The first was with his second wife, Bettie. Construction on the 63,000-square-foot Palazzo del Lago started in 1990 with a budget of $3 million. By the time it was finished in 1996, the price tag was $35 million and Siegel’s marriage was over. Bettie got the house in the 1997 divorce; Siegel bought her out of her share in Westgate Resorts and met his current wife Jackie not long after. David was 60, Jackie was 30. The new couple married in 2000 and eventually had seven children in nine years. For the record, Siegel has 14 children (plus one adopted niece) ranging in age from 5 to 55 years old.
Versailles has taken a lot of planning. The idea started in 2004 when Siegel sketched the home while he was flying on his Gulfstream jet. After that, it took years to find the right marble and to find a company to build the two-story tall front doors. In order to place the home on a hill, dirt was piled and left for two years to settle and compress so that it wouldn’t shift and crack the marble once the house was built. Permission was sought from the local homeowners association because Versailles is 22 feet taller than the association allows.
As extravagant as this house sounds, keep in mind that this is a toned-down version: the original design featured an ice rink, but logistical issues like storing a Zamboni and “special air” convinced Siegel to put a roller skating rink in instead. Siegel’s plan is to sell it or finish it once he gets the financing, whatever comes first.