The $75 Million Handyman Special
If you’re looking for some real estate in the Orlando, Fla., area, there’s a 90,000-square-foot mansion in Windermere that might interest you. It’s the largest single-family home in the U.S., and it’s been on the market since 2010. It’s still under construction, and the “as-is” asking price for the unfinished home is $75 million.
However, if your hands are made to carry Louis Vuitton handbags instead of a hammer, it can be finished for you with the construction materials that are still on the site. If you choose that route, the final price for the property is a cool $100 million.
The home is owned by David and Jackie Siegel. A self-made billionaire, David Siegel is founder, president and chief executive officer of Westgate Resorts, which operates 28 full-service resorts in such U.S. vacation spots as Orlando, Miami and Las Vegas. He and his wife live in a 26,000-square-foot home in Orlando with their seven children and teenage niece, a home that is itself a lavish spread that almost anyone would envy. But the Siegels wanted to make a major upgrade nonetheless, and set their sights on the Windermere property.
The upgrade would have indeed been major. According to the home’s website, the property sits on five lakefront lots totaling more than 10 acres, and boasts 1,200 feet of Lake Butler shoreline. It sits in a community so desirable to high-net-worth individuals that its residents include basketball great Shaquille O'Neal. It was once home to Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren in happier times.
The Siegels bought the property and began construction in 2007, but the following year they had to put those plans on hold when the stock market crashed. The amount of money they lost has not been disclosed, but it was enough to bring construction on the home to a halt. Eventually, it was put on the market, but at least one area real estate representative thinks it will probably be a while before it finds a buyer.
As for the property, its design is based on the Parisian palace of King Louis XIV, and it has been dubbed “Versailles” accordingly. The interior has 13 bedrooms, 23 bathrooms, a grand hall with a 30-foot dome of stained glass, an 1,110-square-foot kitchen with 10 satellite kitchens, a two-lane bowling alley, a roller rink, a movie theater with a balcony, four fireplaces and a dining room with a seating capacity of 30.
With all that going on inside the house, it must be tempting to stay holed up in it indefinitely. However, it’s outfitted with enough outdoor amenities to urge even the most reclusive shut-in to come outside. It has a boathouse, a baseball field, two tennis courts and a pool deck measuring half an acre. If you have to actually leave the property, you can drive out of the 20-car garage.
“The typical buyer for a property like this would be in the top 1/10th of the top 1 percent of individuals in the United States,” says Karen Arbutine of RE/MAX in Lake Mary, Fla. “Only a very small microsector of the population could afford it, people like celebrities, athletes and entrepreneurs, just the most high net worth individuals.”
But what do the neighbors think? According to Arbutine, nothing — there aren’t any.
“It’s in an isolated area on Lake Butler, and the neighbors are fairly far away. It’s its own little entity there,” she said.
Arbutine suspects the property will continue to go without a buyer for a long time, simply because of its overwhelming scale. “When it was going up, people thought it was going to be a hotel," she said. "I sell high-end real estate up to $10 million, and it can’t compare to that house.”
As for the Siegels, they haven’t let the fact that the house remains unsold get them down. "Everything's good," David Siegel told The Orlando Sentinel on Monday. “We're talking about restarting construction on the house."
The story of the Siegels and their unfinished mansion is the subject of “The Queen of Versailles,” a film that won director Lauren Greenfield the U.S. documentary directing award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. It is being released by Magnolia Pictures this summer.