Madame Tussaud's to be sold if the figures add up to pounds 300m

THE FAMOUS London waxworks, Madame Tussaud's, was put on the block yesterday in an auction of tourist attractions that includes the London Planetarium and Alton Towers.

The Tussauds group, which runs the sites, was put up for sale by Pearson, the media group whose interests range from the Financial Times to Baywatch.

Pearson said it had decided to put the group up for sale after receiving a number of offers for the group. Marjorie Scardino, Pearson's chief executive, said: "We have decided that this is a good time to test whether Tussauds might be even more valuable to a new owner. They will have to offer a good price to convince us that it is." Analysts said the business could fetch more than pounds 300m.

Pearson took over Madame Tussaud's in 1978. Despite competition from other London venues, the prospect of seeing film stars, politicians and leading sportsmen and women recreated in wax has continued to pull in visitors from all over the world. Last year, Madame Tussaud's was London's top tourist attraction, with 2.8 million visitors.

Apart from the London branch, there is a smaller version of the waxworks in Amsterdam and Tussauds is also planning to open new outlets in New York and Las Vegas.

Alton Towers, in Staffordshire, which Pearson bought in 1990, recently launched Oblivion, the world's first vertical roller coaster. Visitors to the park can also enjoy an ice show that features Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit.

Tussauds also runs the London Planetarium, which is next door to Madame Tussaud's on Marylebone Road, and the Rock Circus complex in Piccadilly. Other theme parks include Chessington World of Adventures, and Warwick Castle, a historical museum that hosts medieval battles.

Earlier this month, Tussauds agreed to buy the Thorpe Park complex in Surrey, and just yesterday it sold its 40 per cent shareholding in the Port Aventura theme park outside Barcelona for pounds 58m. All in all, the Tussauds venues attracted 12.9 million visitors last year and made a profit of pounds 22.3m.

Analysts reckon the group could attract a number of high-profile buyers. Time Warner, the US media giant, might be interested, as might Universal, the Hollywood cinema group.

In Britain, First Leisure, the nightclub and wine bar operator that also owns Blackpool Tower, may be interested. Rank, the Hard Rock Cafe owner and bingo operator, is also understood to have had a close look at the business.

But industry observers say the Tussauds management team is most likely to win the auction, with the support of a team of venture capitalists.

It may seem puzzling that Pearson wants to sell such a successful business. But the group has recently decided that it wants to concentrate on its media assets, which include financial and educational publishing as well as television. Since Ms Scardino took the helm 18 months ago she has sold off the group's ailing computer games business and its consumer publishing arm. Pearson's stake in the Lazard investment banking group is likely to be the next to go.

Wax Facts

1. Some 2,400lbs of wax has been used in the 365 figures.

2. Sculptors require more than 150 measurements of a subject's face and head to create a life-like portrait.

3. About 500 million people have visited the attraction.

4. It takes six months and costs about pounds 20,000 to make a figure.

5. The building survived a fire in 1925, an earthquake in 1931 and some of the worst bombing of the Blitz in 1940.

6. Only real human hair is used on figures.

7. Joanna Lumley is the most touched waxwork.

8. The most photographed figures are those of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor