Wax museum for sale for £2.5m-plus


The building housing the National Wax Museum off Parnell Square in Dublin is to be sold by the owner, Senator Donie Cassidy. The leader of the Seanad also owns two Dublin city centre hotels, Barry's and Cassidy's as well as a number of record shops.

The 19,030 sq ft building on Granby Row has housed the exhibition of wax figures since 1983, but Mr Cassidy said that the building has increased in value so much that the return he is making on the exhibition no longer justifies the use of such a prime property.

The building and the exhibition are to be sold by tender in two separate lots, although a buyer could bid for both elements and continue to run the exhibition in its present location.

It is expected that the building will be targeted for a development of apartments or offices, or perhaps a combination of the two. The building, within a short distance of O'Connell Street, is on a main thoroughfare to the airport.

The block was originally constructed as a cinema, but its zoning status would allow it a wide range of uses, including offices, residential, or car-parking. Selling agent Eddie Bohan is guiding in the region of £2 million for the building, and in excess of £500,000 for the exhibition.

The two-storey building is divided over three floors, with 6,350 sq ft available on each floor. Another reason cited for the sale is that there is no more room to extend the exhibition, which Mr Cassidy believes requires a further 7,000 sq ft of floor space.

Mr Cassidy said he did not believe the exhibition would remain in the same location but that it was a unique tourist attraction offering an indoor, all-weather family attraction. It may move outside Dublin, where there is less pressure on space and land values.

Mr Cassidy said more than 65,000 visitors came to see the exhibition last year.

The waxwork collection contains more than 150 exhibits constructed by the museum's sculptor. A face mask is taken of the subject, and it then takes about four months to create the life-like wax figure.

The figures on view include the members of U2, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, and the leaders of the 1916 rising. Other attractions include the Chamber of Horrors, and a special Children's World with characters from popular fairytales.

Mr Cassidy said building up the collection had cost more than £1.5 million, although he does not expect to recoup that on the sale. His main concern is that a buyer with a similar passion to his own will be found.

"We hope that the new owner would share the same vision and enthusiasm as ourselves. We have a number of historically significant subjects as part of the sale, which include the actual Popemobile that the Holy Father travelled in during his Irish visit of 1979."

Tenders for the sale close on April 7th.