Friday, June 25, 2010

David Siegel’s Versailles

Just when we thought that the sun had set on stories about the wretched, retch-inducing excess of the go-go years, comes news that there’s a 90,000 square foot “home” for sale in Florida.

For the $75M asking price, you’d think you’d get something broom-clean and in move-in condition but, alas, David Siegel’s Versailles – which was, in fact, begun as the wretched, retch-inducing go-go years drew to a close – is a fixer-upper. (Source for this article:  Wall Street Journal. Content may require subscription. Can’t afford one? Maybe David Siegel can spot you the fee, given all the money he’s saving by not completely Versailles.)  The $75M covers the WYSIWYG. Finishing up is expected to cost another $25M.

Here’s what the pile looks like now – and what you’d be buying ‘as is.’

But here’s what it was supposed to look like.

Personally, I call U-G-L-Y either way.

But I’m not in the market or the mood for a 90,000 square foot house. (And talk about a house is not a home…)

However, just in case you’re in the mood, here’s what’s in the plans:

13 bedrooms, 23 full bathrooms, a 6,000-square-foot master suite (with plans in place for a bed on a rotating platform), a banquet kitchen plus 10 satellite kitchens, a 20-car garage, three pools, a two-story wine cellar and a grand hall with a 30-foot stained glass dome….There’s also a boat house, formal gardens, a baseball field, two tennis courts and a rock grotto with a waterfall, a fitness center, a two-lane bowling alley, a roller rink, a video arcade and a theater.

Well, maybe the Siegels have 12 kids and nobody wants to share a bedroom.  But, basically, I’m thinking what was he thinking?

The baseball field, wine cellar, and roller rink I can see. But what motivates someone to want 10 satellite kitchens? Although who wants to have to walk a quarter of a mile to get a cookie and milk in the middle of the night. (By the way, I’m betting that the bowling alley is big-ball. Siegel doesn’t sound like the candlepin type.)

The master suite is 6,000 square feet, “with plans in place for a bed on a rotating platform”.

Not that there aren’t plenty of times when I wish I had a 6,000 square foot master suite. But that makes it 5 times larger than our entire condo. What must be in that suite? Even if you say 1,000 square feet for the bedroom, and another 2,000 for the requisite his and her bathrooms, his and her walk in closets, and his and her office/sitting room, it’s still a bit hard for me to even begin to imagine the full 6,000 feet.

And don’t get me going on the rotating bed.

Poconos honeymoon/porn star tackiness of it aside, who wants to get up to pee in the middle of the night to pee and have to step out of a rotating bed?

We stayed earlier this week in a lovely old B&B in Connecticut for the night. The four-poster in our bedroom was so high it had little his and hers step stools to get in and out of it. I slept fitfully, fitfully expecting that I was going to end up forgetting I was in a mile-high bed and break an ankle on the way down. At least it wasn’t rotating. Still, who wants a weird-o bed?

Siegel’s selling because his business – Westgate Resorts – is in the doldrums. Westgate does time sharing and resorts, and has properties in all the usual places one might expect resorts run by someone who’d conceive of building a 90,000 square foot home for himself: Orlando, Las Vegas, Myrtle Beach, Branson.

“Instead of putting [his extra money] into this home, he’s putting it back into the company to save the employees,” says listing agent of Lorraine Barrett of Coldwell Banker, noting that Mr. Siegel has had to cut some of his 12,000 employees at Orlando-based Westgate Resorts.

With his Versailles on the market, the Siegels are going to have to hang out in their 26,000 square foot starter home, which must be starting to feel like living in an RV, compared to what they were dreaming about. (What, Daddy, no roller rink? I hate you, you big meany!)

No buyer yet, but there have been a few nibbles from – surprise, surprise – Russia and the Middle East.

This one does have Russian oligarch written all over it, doesn’t it?

But given the current climate with respect to immigrants, I would think that foreigners might only be able to come on a temporary visitor visa. Which would make Versailles a vacation home. Which, I guess was what Versailles-Versailles was, no? (No mention if there’s a sheep pasture on the grounds.)

The realtor, has put some deep thought into who might buy:

Ms. Barrett speculates a potential buyer would likely have several children, as well as an estate manger, nannies, a cook and extended family living with them.

Yes, certainly, several children would justify a larger house. And if you have 10 satellite kitchens, you could naturally use a cook.

By the way, if 90,000 sounds a bit too biggish for you – perhaps you’re an empty nester – there are a couple of smaller mega homes for sale: 30,000 square feet in NJ - 19 bedrooms, 12 baths, and a basketball court.  Personally, I don’t like the idea of having to share a bath, but that’s just me.

And there’s a pending on a 48,000 square footer in Bel Air, California. But you know how pendings are these days – that jumbo mortgage could fall through.

In case you’re wondering, David Siegel’s Versailles is a play-house compared to the “real” Versailles, which weighs in at 87,728,720  square feet (according to wikipedia).

But over 200 years after it was built, Versailles is still standing.

Any takers on whether Versailles of Florida will be have avoided the wrecker ball even 50 years out. Unless, of course, it doesn’t get converted to a hotel/school/nursing home or some other socially or commercially useful construct.

(Hope that don’t have any of that sulfur-ridden wallboard in there. I heard that in the Florida damp it starts to smell, plus corrodes all the wiring. Maybe for $75-100M you get plaster walls.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

so this is where all the money goes when you buy a time share.
you put your money into the property,when you want to sell your share,you are told it isn,t worth what you invested.give it away or donate.this sounds just like bernie madoff.the property is still there for the developer
to put into his hip pocket and become a millionaire.I wander how long these men sat around a table
and planned this rip off.