|Traded as||NASDAQ: WHLM|
|Industry||Modeling and talent agency|
|Founded||New York City (1967 )|
New York City
|CEO Bill Wackermann|
Wilhelmina International Inc. (NASDAQ: WHLM), formerly Wilhelmina Models, is a modeling and talent agency headquartered in Dallas, Texas, USA, with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and London.
Founded in 1967 by Wilhelmina Cooper, today it provides full-service representation and management to models, entertainers, artists, musicians, and athletes. Its customers include retailers, designers, advertising agencies, and catalog companies.
Wilhelmina Models was founded in 1967 by the Dutch model Wilhelmina Cooper with her husband Bruce Cooper and with Bill Weinberg and Fran Rothchild as minority partners. The company developed numerous models, including Iman, Beverly Peele, and Gia Carangi. After Wilhelmina Cooper died in 1980 at age 40, the agency was transferred to her business partners, and was then bought in 1989 for around 4 million dollars by Horst-Dieter Esch, a German businessman with interests in the construction industry. 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.
In 1993, Esch appointed his 21-year-old daughter Natasha Esch as president of the agency and gave her his shares as a college graduation present. When she took the position she was criticized for being too young and inexperienced, though she impressed some in the industry by suing Elite after they lured away Beverly Peele and settling for what she said was a six figure sum; and also for dismissing the head of her Los Angeles division. In 1997, she resigned from her position and Dieter Esch succeeded her as president.
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. New Century subsequently changed its name to Wilhelmina International, Inc. and now trades under the ticker symbol 'WHLM'.
The company now licenses its brand to third-party agencies in countries around the world, including the United States, Panama, Tokyo, and Thailand. As an extension of its talent representation business, Wilhelmina Artist Management specializes in representing entertainers and musicians.
As of 2016, people managed by the company include singer and actor Nick Jonas; singers Shawn Mendes and Demi Lovato; models Cindy Bruna, Nyle DiMarco, Matthew Noszka, and Marlon Teixeira; and Olympic fencer Race Imboden.
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