Waxworks under the hammer: Madame Tussauds site up for sale

First time the building has come to the market as a single investment opportunity

The site of one of London’s most famous attractions, the waxworks Madame Tussauds, is up for sale.

It is among London’s top ten tourist attractions by visitor numbers, and it has remained in the same iconic premises on Marylebone road since 1884.

But now, the site of Madame Tussauds is set to go on the market.

The appetite for commercial property in London has remained strong, and property tycoon Nick Leslau has instructed agent CBRE to market the premises, the FT reports.

The price? £300m.

But the attraction itself isn’t under threat. The firm which runs Madame Tussauds, the FTSE 200 company Merlin Entertainment, has a 27-year lease on the property, and will continue to pay its rent of £15.5m a year.

Madame Tussauds was in the news earlier this week, after announcing a major new Star Wars exhibition. The show, which will open in May offers visitors the chance to “take selfies”, with Yoda, Han Solo, Chewbacca and all the rest of the intergalactic gang.

Merlin’s strength is expected to attract top flight property investors looking to get a slice of London’s booming commercial property market.

The site is currently owned by the Secure Income Reit, of which Leslau’s firm, Prestbury Investment Holdings, is the manager and also owns roughly a quarter of its shares, according to the FT.

Who was Madame Tussaud?

Marie Tussaud was a French wax sculptor who became closely involved with the French Revolution. During protests in the lead up to the attack on the Bastille, Tussaud helped make wax heads of several important French people, which were carried on spikes through the streets of Paris by revolutionaries.

Madame Tussaud age 42

Tussaud was subsequently arrested and had her head shaved in preparation for the guillotine. At the last minute, an influential friend prevented her death. Instead she became employed making death masks of other victims of the guillotine, including Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and Robespierre. These masks fuelled the revolutionary fervour even further.

After the revolution, Tussaud moved with her family to London. Unable to move back to France, she founded her first waxwork museum in Baker Street in 1838. She died in 1850.

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