David A. Siegel
|David A. Siegel|
|Born||David Alan Siegel
May 3, 1935
|Alma mater||University of Miami (dropped out)|
|Organization||Westgate Resorts Ltd|
|Spouse(s)||Geraldine Florence Sanstrom (1961–1968)
Bettie Irene Tucker (1970–1997)
Jackie Mallery (2000–present)
Susan "Stacey" Siegel
Jonquil Peed (adopted, 1994)
Jacqueline & Jordan (2007)
|Parent(s)||Sidney and Sadelle Siegel|
|Relatives||Barry Siegel (brother)|
David Alan Siegel (born May 3, 1935) is an American businessman who founded Westgate Resorts Ltd, a Florida-based timeshare resort firm where he serves as president and chief executive officer. He has nine biological children and two adopted children. Siegel is CEO of CFI Resorts Management Inc. and Central Florida Investments Inc. and his other businesses include real estate, construction, hotel and apartment management, travel services, insurance, transportation, and retail.
Siegel, his wife Jackie, and their Versailles house, a 90,000-square-foot (8,400 m2) residential construction project in Florida, were the subject of the 2012 documentary film The Queen of Versailles.
Siegel was born to a Jewish family in Chicago, to Sadelle and Sid Siegel, a grocer, who moved the family and grocery business to Miami in 1945. Siegel grew up in Florida where he graduated from Miami Senior High School in 1953, and later studied marketing and management at the University of Miami, before dropping out.
In March 1961, Siegel married Geraldine Florence Sanstrom. The couple had three children. Their marriage ended in 1968. In 1970, Siegel married Betty Tucker and moved from Miami to Orlando. They divorced in 1997 and he remained the custodial parent of all the children. He met his current wife Jackie Siegel in 1998. Although she was not Jewish, they married in a Jewish ceremony.
On June 6, 2015, the Siegels' 18-year-old daughter Victoria Siegel was found unresponsive at their home in Windermere, and after being taken to hospital, was pronounced dead. The cause of death was later determined to be a drug overdose, which motivated him to advocate against drug abuse.
Siegel studied marketing and management at the University of Miami. He also holds an honorary doctorate from Florida A&M University for his work in community service, as well as the National Community Service Award from the American Resort Development Association (ARDA).
In a February 2012 interview by Susan Berfield, Siegel elaborated:
"Whenever I saw a negative article about Gore, I put it in with the paychecks of my 8,000 employees. I had my managers do a survey on every employee. If they liked Bush, we made them register to vote. But not if they liked Gore. The week before [the election] we made 80,000 phone calls through my call center—they were robo-calls. On Election Day, we made sure everyone who was voting for Bush got to the polls. I didn’t know he would win by 527 votes. Afterward, we did a survey among the employees to find out who voted who wouldn’t have otherwise. One thousand of them said so."
During the 2012 United States elections, Siegel caused controversy and public debate when he sent a mass email to his employees, suggesting that they vote for Republican Party candidate Mitt Romney or he might have to take drastic measures in how he operated the company (including cutting back on his company's workforce). In January 2015, it was noted that his company had experienced "the best year in our history" and he raised his company's minimum wage to $10 per hour.
Sexual harassment lawsuit by Dawn Myers
In 2008, Siegel was found liable in a sexual-harassment lawsuit brought by former Westgate employee Dawn Myers. After a trial in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, the jury awarded $5.4 million, but the judge reduced the award to $610,000. In the trial award, Myers recovered $103,622.09 in compensatory damages and $506,847.75 in punitive damages arising from her claim of battery under state law, but her claims of sexual harassment were found to be time-barred. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit dismissed an appeal and cross-appeal, affirming the district court's judgment.
The Queen of Versailles
The Queen of Versailles is an award-winning 2012 American documentary film by Lauren Greenfield. The film shows Jackie Siegel and David Siegel, owners of Westgate Resorts, and their family as they attempt to build the Versailles house, the largest and most expensive single-family house in the United States, and the crisis they face as the U.S. economy declines.
The film also shows Siegel trying and failing to retain ownership of Westgate's Las Vegas high-rise resort, the Ph Towers Westgate. Siegel's son and senior Westgate executive, Richard, is quoted as saying that David Siegel's determination not to lose the Ph Tower was a major source of the company's financial troubles in 2009-11. On November 22, 2011, a controlling interest in the property was sold to Resort Finance America LLC.
On January 10, 2012, David Siegel and Westgate Resorts, Ltd filed a lawsuit in Florida against the Sundance Institute and the filmmakers of The Queen of Versailles, claiming that Sundance's published film description was defamatory. On January 23, 2013, the United States District Court Judge Conway of the Middle District of Florida ordered a stay of the lawsuit pending arbitration. In her order, Judge Conway called the testimony previously offered by Mr. Siegel during court hearings "inconsistent and incredible and thus lacking weight".
The matter was subsequently heard before an arbitrator for the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA) in June 2013. On March 13, 2014, the arbitrator awarded in favor of the filmmakers, Lauren Greenfield and Frank Evers, including an order that David Siegel and Westgate Resort pay $750,000 to the filmmakers.
The arbitrator wrote in the award, "Having viewed the supposedly egregious portions of the Motion Picture numerous times, [the Arbitrator] simply does not find that any of the content of the Motion Picture was false." The arbitrator also wrote that Westgate had failed to show how it was damaged from the documentary. Finally, the arbitrator wrote that Westgate "did not remotely establish the type of malice required for a defamation claim on behalf of a public figure."
A second lawsuit filed by David Siegel (and Jackie Siegel) in February 2013, against the filmmakers of The Queen of Versailles, was subsequently heard by Greg Derin of the American Arbitration Association in Los Angeles. On February 28, 2014, Derin ruled that the filmmakers' agreement with the family, pertaining to certain life rights, was "invalid and unenforceable". The Siegels' attempt to sue for $5 million in damages was also dismissed by Derin.
Siegel serves as Chairman of the David A. Siegel Society, the Westgate Resorts Foundation's highest level of contributors[clarification needed]. In addition, he sits on the board of many civic organizations, including the Board of Directors for the Florida 2012 Olympics committee. He also has earned the National Community Service Award from the American Resort Development Association (ARDA).
Mystery Fun House
Siegel was one of the founders of Mystery Fun House which was an attraction in Orlando, Florida which opened in March 28, 1976 and operated until 2001. It was located near International Drive, on Major Boulevard just across from Universal Orlando Resort. Over time, the fun house expanded to include a laser-tag facility, an arcade, a dinosaur-themed mini golf course and other attractions. He also produced a movie within the MFH called Night Terror in 2002. It starred local talent but also included Jeff Speakman and Al Lewis (The Munsters).
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- The Queen of Versailles. Dir. Lauren Greenfield. Evergreen Pictures, 2012. Film. http://www.queenofversailles.com/
- "Sadelle Siegel worked into her 90s, was 'woman with golden arm' in Vegas - Orlando Sentinel". Articles.orlandosentinel.com. 2008-06-08. Retrieved 2013-03-04.
- Jewish Week: "Intermarried In 'Versailles'" July 7, 2007
- "Is David Siegel The Magic's Man? - Orlando Sentinel". Articles.orlandosentinel.com. 2002-02-03. Retrieved 2013-03-04.
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- "Inside what would be the biggest house in America - MSN Real Estate". Realestate.msn.com. Retrieved 2013-03-04.
- Orlando Sentinel: "Timeshare Baron Weds Former Beauty Queen" By Leslie Doolittle January 3, 2000
- Liston, Barbara (July 30, 2012). "Time-share king restarts work on Florida Versailles as business booms". Reuters.
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- Goldberg, Adam (2012-07-31). "David Siegel, Florida Real Estate Mogul, Claims To Be 'Personally Responsible' For George W. Bush's 2000 Victory". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
- Berfield, Susan. "Why Time-Share King David Siegel Thinks He Got Bush Elected". Business Weed. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
- Berfield, Susan (October 10, 2012). "Why David Siegel Told His Employees to Vote for Romney". Business Week.
- Gawker "The CEO Who Built Himself America’s Largest House Just Threatened to Fire His Employees if Obama’s Elected" Archived October 11, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
- "David Siegel ups minimum pay to $10 an hour". Orlando Sentinel. January 5, 2015. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
- "Mr. Big". Orlando Magazine. June 2009. Retrieved 2013-02-05.
- "Dawn Georgette Myers v. Central Florida Investments, Inc., David Siegel, et al." (PDF). United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. 2010-01-06. Retrieved 2013-02-05.
- Ph Towers has new owner
- Eriq Gardner (2013-01-25). "'Queen of Versailles' Filmmaker Wins Key Ruling in Defamation Fight". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
- "Westgate Resorts, Ltd. v. Lauren Greenfield, Frank Evers and Greenfield/Evers LLC" (PDF). 2013-01-24. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
- Deshayla Strachan (2013-01-29). "'Queen of Versailles' Spat Heads to Arbitration". Entertainment Law Digest. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
- Eriq Gardner (2014-03-13). "'Queen of Versailles' Filmmaker Beats Westgate's Defamation Claim (Exclusive)". Hollywood Reporter.
- Adam Benzine (2014-03-17). "IFTA backs filmmakers over "Queens of Versailles" complaint". Hollywood Reporter.
- "IFTA Award by Roy Rifkin in matter of Westgate Resort Ltd versus Frank Evers, Lauren Greenfield, and Greenfield/Evers LLC".