Absurd Mansard: Mega Mansions For Sale; Any Takers?
Recently, there has been a great deal of hype about the super rich and the ostentatious monuments to private wealth. But perhaps you are wondering–who, where, when, and ”how much”? For example, recently, the above-illustrated unfinished mansion of David Siegel, the chief executive officer of Orlando-based Westgate Resorts, was listed at roughly $75 million and, guess what, the place is being sold … “as is!” Called Versailles, some of its attributes include a very wealthy domicile in Orlando; 90,000 square feet; 13 bedrooms; 23 full bathrooms; a 6,000-square-foot master suite (including a vibrating bed/we mean rotating/or is it spinning); a 20-car garage; three pools; a two-story wine cellar, &tc. And we hate to say it, but given this unbelievable palace: If you live in Florida and bought in to something related to Mr. Siegel, you probably over paid. Its not only probable, but we are almost certain.
Slightly more affordable is a 12 bedroom, 19 bath, 3,000-wine bottle holding mansion for $68 million in Alpine, New Jersey–just eight miles from Manhattan. However, unlike Mr. Siegel’s neo-French Chateaux, Stone Mansion,as it is called by its current owner, Richard Kurtz, should be very comforting to most Americans, as it has the appearance of a “super-sized” “McMansion”…If you work in Manhattan and desire suburban bliss among other integral features of faux finishes, this is more affordable than retiring to Versailles in Florida. And, hey, its more accessible to city.
However, both of these newer homes are blown out of the water when compared to what Aaron Spelling (1923-2006), eminent American film and television producer, created in Los Angeles, California. The Manor, as dubbed by the Hollywood mogul, has wings that embody its 123-room configuration. We are not sure whether or not it can “go into orbit”, but we are of mind that it features an indoor skating rink, multiple pools, three kitchens, and a bowling alley. This circa 1991 edifice was listed in 2010 for the bargain price of $150 million. WOWZA!!!
So, before we start balking on the subject of private wealth, and its current architectural vulgarizations, the question is: have the super rich really changed?
While the wealth progenitor Cornelius Vanderbilt was rolling over in his grave, George Washington Vanderbilt, II (1862-1914), heir, in part, to the United States Vanderbilt family’s steamboat/railroad-related fortune, decided he wanted a country house in Asheville, North Carolina. Richard Morris Hunt (1827-1895), the eminent architect of the Gilded Age, designed the colossal mansion–a 250-room house which was modeled after the great French Chateaux of the Loire Valley. Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), one of the first and most eminent in Landscape Architecture, designed the extensive grounds. This became the Biltmore we know today.
Architectural expression has long since been one of the greatest means for displaying wealth. We are sorry to say, nothing has changed. While we enjoy some of these monuments, there are others that lack the merit necessary for appreciation. We have come to the conclusion that despite all of our progression as a society, vulgar-ish manner is alive and well and at any end of the glamorous U.S.A.