Author Topic: Movie: The Queen of Versailles  (Read 11299 times)

Honest Abe

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Movie: The Queen of Versailles
« on: December 22, 2012, 06:33:35 AM »
Saw this movie on Netflix instant last night..

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2125666/

Essentially a riches-to-rags story about a guy who built a time-share empire with highly leveraged assets, only to see it fall apart during the 2008 crisis, along with his VERY unmustachian lifestyle. I actually don't dislike the people in the movie, and almost feel bad for them in a way.

Anyhow, it's very much worth a watch.

aces2

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Re: Movie: The Queen of Versailles
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2012, 12:04:59 PM »
Do you know anyone who has a DVD copy they'd send to me to borrow?  ;) 

Worsted Skeins

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Re: Movie: The Queen of Versailles
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2012, 12:12:06 PM »
Just put in a request for it at the library.  Thanks!

TheDude

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Re: Movie: The Queen of Versailles
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2012, 02:13:04 PM »
I think I've heard they rebounded pretty well with the economy. So its kind of riches to rag to riches story.

Honest Abe

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Re: Movie: The Queen of Versailles
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2012, 08:35:46 AM »
I think I've heard they rebounded pretty well with the economy. So its kind of riches to rag to riches story.

Just goes to show you that once you have a certain amount of money, it's very difficult to reach what we would consider "poor" or even average for that matter.

chucklesmcgee

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Re: Movie: The Queen of Versailles
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2012, 07:28:16 PM »
Saw this movie on Netflix instant last night..

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2125666/

Essentially a riches-to-rags story about a guy who built a time-share empire with highly leveraged assets, only to see it fall apart during the 2008 crisis, along with his VERY unmustachian lifestyle. I actually don't dislike the people in the movie, and almost feel bad for them in a way.

Anyhow, it's very much worth a watch.
Also free for Amazon prime members.

kudy

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Re: Movie: The Queen of Versailles
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2012, 07:42:44 PM »
scary

Rich M

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Re: Movie: The Queen of Versailles
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2012, 09:21:52 PM »
Thanks. Gonna watch now.

KingCoin

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Re: Movie: The Queen of Versailles
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2012, 08:28:55 PM »
I actually don't dislike the people in the movie, and almost feel bad for them in a way.

I watched this last night. I found the couple less sympathetic than you do for the following reasons:

1) David Siegel and son made no bones about the fact that they used psychologically manipulative tactics to sell people time-shares they can't afford. Their cynical, rubber-hits-the-road, involvement in inflating the credit bubble makes them even more culpable for the financial meltdown than mortgage bankers in my opinion (if in spirit rather than in scale).
2) They were totally complainypants when things went wrong. They actually blamed the bankers for giving them too much credit. Unbelievable.
3) Meglomania. One of the opening shots when Siegel brags about using potentially illegal tactics to secure George W's win in Florida was just a sick display of a probably delusional grandiosity. He seemed to think it was pretty cool that he "caused" the Iraq war.

On the other hand, I have to think these people differ from so many others not by their attitudes, but on the scale at which their ambitions play out.

Overall the documentary was pretty fascinating. It's filled with moments of cognitive dissonance (David claims he doesn't care about material things while building a $100 million house filled with expensive kitsch), strange playing to the camera (Jackie feigns surprise that her Hertz rent-a-car doesn't come with a driver when she's "slumming it" post crash), and awkward glimpses into the life of a rich man and his trophy wife (Jackie desperately loads up on plastic surgery to please her husband who hosts Miss America pageant contestants at his house because he "loves beautiful women"). I felt especially bad for their many kids who seem to live in a world of unstructured, chaotic excess.

If there was ever a demonstration that material things aren't going to make you happy, it's this.

Rich M

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Re: Movie: The Queen of Versailles
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2012, 10:39:24 PM »
Okay, I saw it.  Very well done.

Siegel and his ambitions might belong on the wall of shame but this documentary does not!

chucklesmcgee

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Re: Movie: The Queen of Versailles
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2012, 04:17:29 PM »
I watched this last night. I found the couple less sympathetic than you do for the following reasons:

2) They were totally complainypants when things went wrong. They actually blamed the bankers for giving them too much credit. Unbelievable.


I don't really fault them, at least morally, so much for that. They based their timeshare pricing strategy on the availability of credit and banks willingness to repurchase and package up such loans. When the crash occurred, it's as though the rug had been pulled out from under them. It was a poor business decision in retrospect, but not one that was glaringly obvious ex-ante. Their having so many mortgages on personal property when they're basically throwing money away on pythons and caviar is much less forgivable.

What surprised me so much was how difficult it was for the wife to adjust when she had grown up fairly poor and had gotten a degree in computer science. I could understand someone coming from inherited wealth not knowing that rental cars don't come with drivers, I couldn't understand someone who had been lower-middle class until she was at least, what, 20 or so not knowing this or how to be at least cheap in an anti-mustachian way. But still, she seemed pretty accepting and understanding that she needed to cut back, even if she had a hard time actually acting on it.

I really did believe David Seigel when he says he doesn't care about material things. Sure he's building a $75 million home, but it's not like he's out bawling or throwing tantrums when it turns out they have to sell it. When the crash occurs he's much more concerned with reestablishing some stability in his teetering empire than trying to salvage any personal effects. You'll notice he's never really wearing especially fancy clothes or actively purchasing anything a middle class person wouldn't buy. He doesn't fantasize or gloat at the material things he has- he's much more proud of the connections and influence he's had than material things. He never seems to identify himself with material possessions, his focus is mostly on his kids, his wife, and his business empire more than any piece of property.  He's got a "hands off" sign on his thermostat to keep energy costs down. True, it's absurd that someone valued at over a billion dollars pre-crash would still have mortgages on properties worth what, 5-10% of his net worth, but he doesn't seem to show the sort of constant infatuation with luxury for luxury's sake that his wife does. He's eating a Hershey's bar for Christmas while his wife is downing thousand dollar caviar. For a billionaire (excessive mortgages aside) I'd say he was living fairly modestly pre-crash and seemed most concerned with losing his business and identity as a successful businessman than the material things that came with his wealth.

KingCoin

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Re: Movie: The Queen of Versailles
« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2012, 05:04:24 PM »
What surprised me so much was how difficult it was for the wife to adjust when she had grown up fairly poor and had gotten a degree in computer science. I could understand someone coming from inherited wealth not knowing that rental cars don't come with drivers, I couldn't understand someone who had been lower-middle class until she was at least, what, 20 or so not knowing this or how to be at least cheap in an anti-mustachian way. But still, she seemed pretty accepting and understanding that she needed to cut back, even if she had a hard time actually acting on it.

I think she was primarily playing to the camera. I'm 99.9% sure she was aware that rental cars didn't come with drivers. The fact that they now have a reality show planned is further testimony to this.

For a billionaire (excessive mortgages aside) I'd say he was living fairly modestly pre-crash and seemed most concerned with losing his business and identity as a successful businessman than the material things that came with his wealth.

I'll agree with this. He seems like an egomaniac who's more concerned with his own power and influence than specific material goods, but then again, most luxury goods are just status signalers anyway. He's just way beyond the point where he needs fancy clothes to prove anything. As for his concern for his family? I didn't see it. He seemed to have at best a distant relationship with his kids as he was always working (his adult son with whom he worked described their relationship as "not close"). He described his wife as "another child" from whom derives no strength.

I think it's hard to deny that this guy isn't a complete scumbag. A few choice quotes from Wikipedia:
"Westgate Founder David Siegel was found guilty of sexual harassment in a lawsuit brought by former Westgate employee Georgette Meyers.[4] Meyers worked for Westgate for 14 years. She claimed that Siegel offered a million dollars to have sex with her. Meyers claimed that she had to repeatedly fight off unwanted advances from Siegel, and a Florida court awarded Meyers $5.4 Million in damages in February 2008."
"CEO David Siegel, a Republican, sent an email in the fall of 2012 to all of his employees suggesting that he may "reduce the size of this company" if Obama wins the 2012 presidential election.[6] The email has been widely interpreted by the media as a threat to the employees about possible layoffs if Barack Obama is re-elected.[7]

According to the website Gawker, Mr. Siegel previously said of the 2000 presidential election, "I had my managers do a survey on every employee [8,000 total]. If they liked Bush, we made them register to vote. But not if they liked Gore."[8]"