Wilhelmina Models

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Wilhelmina International Inc.
TypePublic company
IndustryModeling and talent agency
FoundedNew York City (1967 (1967))
FounderWilhelmina Cooper
Bruce Cooper
New York City
Los Angeles
Area served
Key people
Mark E. Schwarz (CEO)
James A. McCarthy (CFO)

Wilhelmina International Inc. (NASDAQ: WHLM), formerly Wilhelmina Models, is a full service modeling and talent agency headquartered in New York City, United States. The company also has offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and London. Founded in 1967 by Wilhelmina Cooper, it currently provides full-service representation and management to models, entertainers, artists, musicians, and athletes. In 2009 the company became the first and only publicly traded modeling and talent agency after its acquisition by New Century Equity Holdings Corp.[1][2][3][4]


Wilhelmina International Inc. was founded in 1967 by the Dutch-American model Wilhelmina Cooper and husband Victor Bruce Cooper, as well as minority partners Bill Weinberg and Fran Rothchild. The company currently constitutes one of the oldest and largest full-service model management companies in the world.[5]

After Wilhelmina Cooper died in 1980 at age 40, the agency was transferred to her business partners,[5] and was then bought in 1989 for around 4 million dollars by Horst-Dieter Esch, a German businessman with interests in the construction industry.[6] Esch held discussions with Elite Model Management and Ford Models with a view to creating a large conglomerate agency that would be taken public, but this did not happen.[5][6] The company was incorporated in Delaware in 1996.[7]

In February 2009, New Century Equity Holdings Corp, a publicly traded company, acquired Wilhelmina Models. Esch sold his stake in the agency for 22 million dollars.[7][8] New Century subsequently changed its name to Wilhelmina International, Inc. and currently trades under the ticker symbol 'WHLM'.[9] The company licenses its brand to third-party agencies in countries around the world, including the United States and Dubai.[10]

In 1998, Wilhelmina partnered with Atlantic Records and created an Artist Division that matched music artists with international brands.[11] In January 2015, the firm opened an office in London (England) and 2016 in Chicago (U.S.). Additionally in 2016, Wilhelmina launched Aperture, a talent and commercial agency that represents models and actors for film, commercials, and television with offices in New York City and Los Angeles.[12][13][14]

Wilhelmina represents and manages 2,100[7] models, celebrities, artists, athletes and content creators worldwide, including Nicki Minaj, Niall Horan, Normani, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, Machine Gun Kelly, 5 Seconds of Summer, Alexandra Waterbury, James B. Whiteside, Nadia Ferreira, Leona Lewis, Shawn Mendes, Dustin Lance Black, Francisco Lachowski, Barbie Ferreira, Robyn Lawley, Sora Choi, Rola Ghorab, Anne de Paula, Billie Eilish, and others.[15][16][17][18][19]

After trading OTC, Wilhelmina entered the NASDAQ Capital Market in September 2014.[7]

In 2016, Wilhelmina spent $2.7 million on a stock buyback, funded by a 4.5-year term loan from Amegy Bank. The company modified the loan terms and bought another $1 million of stock (150,000 shares) in 2018. At the end of 2019 the balance on the loans was $2 million. From 2012 until the end of 2019 the company repurchased over 1.3 million shares.[7]

Bill Wackermann was hired as CEO in 2016, after being fired from Conde Nast.[20]

In mid-2019 five employees left the women's division for Supreme, an Elite Model Management company.[21] Wilhelmina sued the five women's division employees over non-compete clauses, which was dismissed by the judge.[22][23] After the "court drama" Wackermann's "number two", VP Taylor Hendrich, and four other employees left the men's division and joined The Society Management, also part of Elite, though this was initially denied by Wackermann.[24]

Linked to these departures, in October 2019, Bill Wackermann's employment contract was not renewed for its two-year term. He resigned as CEO in January 2020 and was replaced by majority shareholder Mark Schwarz, who had been CEO from 2007-2012 and is also known as hard rock drummer Mark Edwards from the bands Steeler and Lion.[25][26][27][28]

At the end of 2019, the company had 114 employees, with 70 of those in New York City and two at the corporate headquarters in Dallas. The Dallas office is shared with Newcastle Partners, the company's largest shareholder: Schwarz's Newcastle and Schwarz entities own 47% of the stock. Total revenue in 2019 was $75.4 million, down from $77.9 million in 2018. The company posted a loss of $4.8 million in 2019, compared to a $0.85 million profit in 2018.[7][25]

On April 15, 2020, Wilhelmina received $2 million in federally backed small business loans from Amegy Bank as part of the Paycheck Protection Program. The company received scrutiny over this loan, which was aimed at small businesses.[29][30][31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Wilhelmina Models opening Chicago office, scouting at Pitchfork". Chicago Tribune.
  2. ^ "Wilhelmina International Inc". Yahoo Finance.
  3. ^ "Wilhelmina Models Searching for a 2015 Summer Goddess". Good Black News. July 11, 2015.
  4. ^ "Nicki Minaj Just Landed A Major Fashion Gig: Why She Signed To Wilhelmina Models". Hollywood Life.
  5. ^ a b c Steinhauer, Jennifer (February 2, 1997). "The New Wilhelmina Wears a T-Shirt". The New York Times. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  6. ^ a b Gross Michael (July 7, 2013). "Model Citizen?". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "FORM 10-K". sec.gov. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  8. ^ Kosman, Josh (April 28, 2010). "Not a good model year". New York Post. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  9. ^ "Investor Relations". wilhelmina.com. Wilhelmina Models. Archived from the original on April 17, 2014. Retrieved April 17, 2014. (archived copy)
  10. ^ "Wilhelmina Models Acquires Union Models". Business Model Mag.
  11. ^ "Model deal: Atlantic Group inks pact with Wilhelmina". April 6, 1998.
  12. ^ "United States Security Commission". SEC.gov.
  13. ^ "Wilhelmina Launches Aperture for Commercial Talent". Women's Wear Daily. December 12, 2016.
  14. ^ "Wilhelmina adds Nicki Minaj, undisputed Queen of Rap, to Celebrity Division". WSFA. Archived from the original on April 13, 2017.
  15. ^ "Nicki Minaj signs to Wilhelmina Models". Page Six. March 29, 2017.
  16. ^ "Wilhelmina Models signs Dustin Lance Black". The Belfast Telegraph.
  17. ^ "Tom Daley's Fiance Dustin Lance Signs Maor Modelling Contract". The Belfast Telegraph. April 7, 2017.
  18. ^ "Niall Horan Explores Modeling, Signs With Wilhelmina Agency". Billboard.
  19. ^ "5 Seconds Of Summer | Wilhelmina". www.wilhelmina.com. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
  20. ^ "Fired Condé Nast publisher hired to lead modeling agency". New York Post. January 27, 2016. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  21. ^ "CEO Bill Wackermann, employees exit Wilhelmina modeling agency". Page Six. May 26, 2019. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  22. ^ "Judge dismisses Wilhelmina case against employees who quit". Page Six. June 14, 2019. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  23. ^ "Wilhelmina modeling agency sues five employees who quit". New York Post. May 28, 2019. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  24. ^ "More agents appear to be leaving Wilhelmina following court drama". Page Six. June 15, 2019. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  25. ^ a b "SCHEDULE 14A INFORMATION". sec.gov. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  26. ^ "Bill Wackermann finished at Wilhelmina Models by month's end". Page Six. January 8, 2020. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  27. ^ "Wilhelmina Models not renewing CEO Bill Wackermann's contract". Page Six. November 13, 2019. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  28. ^ "Controversial Wilhelmina CEO Bill Wackermann thanks Page Six for coverage". Page Six. November 14, 2019. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  29. ^ "FORM 8-K". sec.gov. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  30. ^ "International modeling agency Wilhelmina receives nearly $2 million in PPP loans". Dallas News. April 23, 2020. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  31. ^ "Wilhelmina International gets nearly $2M in coronavirus small-business loans". New York Post. April 22, 2020. Retrieved April 30, 2020.

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