Inside the US's biggest house

Last updated 10:10 18/07/2012
Fairfax Australia

Property tycoon wanted his own version of Versailles in Florida... then the GFC hit.

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Ever feel a bit cramped at home, like you need a bit more space? That's unlikely to be a problem for the owners of the so-called American Versailles, which is nearly 40 times bigger than the average US home.

Residents need segways to get between its nine kitchens, 30 bathrooms and two cinemas.

The owner of what will be America's largest residential home, time-share mogul and billionaire David Siegel, admits plans for his mansion got a bit out of control.

"We didn't start out having a 90,000-square-foot house. It was more like a normal 60,000-square-foot house," the 77-year-old told America's ABC Nightline program.

"But then I said, 'I want a bowling alley,'" his wife Jackie continued.

"And then he said, 'Well, I want a health spa.' You know, so we just kept going back and forth and adding on things."

Their original plans for a 60,000-square-foot mansion would have made their home 25 times bigger than the average 2392-square-foot US house.

Business Insider reported the home was worth US$75 million as is, or US$100 million completed.

The real Versailles is a historic royal chateau in France, with 2300 rooms.

Mr Siegel and Jackie, 46, a former beauty queen, took Nightline through their Florida mansion, which is still under construction because of financial troubles they had during the recession.

The Siegels' home has made headlines before, but there is renewed interest in the US because the family is the focus of a new documentary called The Queen of Versailles.

The film explores the impact of the financial crisis on their opulent lifestyle and the construction of their enormous home.

The couple told Nightline they were now suing filmmaker Lauren Greenfield and other people linked to the documentary for defamation.

They said a quote in which Mr Siegel described their story as a "riches to rags" tale was taken out of context, and a scene in which Mrs Siegel hires a limo to get McDonald's was one of many set up by producers.

"I just wanted the truth to come out. I didn't want people to ... see the movie, and think this is the truth. It wasn't," Mr Siegel said.

"The scenes are totally manipulated, staged. The suit was not to gain monetarily. The suit was so that people would know that it's not the truth."

The film won the US Directing Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and has received many positive reviews.

The Siegels are among some famous names on the list of America's biggest homes.

The second biggest residential home in the US is a 73,000-square-foot mansion in Las Vegas owned by casino and racing mogul Phil Ruffin.

Bill Gates's 66,000-square-foot mansion in Medina, Washington - which features a 2500-square-foot gym - also makes the list, as does Petra Eccelstone's 57,000-square-foot Los Angeles pile.

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- Sydney Morning Herald


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