|Traded as||NASDAQ: WHLM|
|Founded||New York City (1967 )|
New York City
Wilhelmina Models (NASDAQ: WHLM) is a talent management agency that was founded in 1967 by Dutch supermodel Wilhelmina Cooper and her husband, Bruce Cooper. In February 2009, New Century Equity Holdings Corp., a publicly traded company, acquired the business.
Wilhelmina Models provides full-spectrum model management for women, men, full-figured, fitness, and children models, as well as athletes, entertainers, and musicians.
Founding and early days
Dutch supermodel Wilhelmina Cooper founded the agency with her husband Bruce Cooper and two minority partners, Bill Weinberg and Fran Rothchild in 1967. Wilhelmina developed numerous models, including Iman and Beverly Peele. Cooper died of lung cancer in 1980 at 40. The agency was transferred to her business partners after her death. Soon after her death, many of Wilhelmina's top-tier models left for other agencies.
Dieter Esch bought the agency in 1989 for a reported 4 to 7 million dollars. In 1993, he appointed his 21-year-old daughter Natasha Esch president of the agency and gave her his shares as a college graduation present. She was criticized when she took the position for being too young and inexperienced. In 1997, Natasha Esch resigned from her position in order to pursue other opportunities. 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'.
Wilhelmina International, Inc. is headquartered in Dallas, Texas and also has offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami. The company also licenses its brand to third-party agencies throughout the world including the United States, Panama, Tokyo, and Thailand. As an extension of Wilhelmina’s talent representation business, Wilhelmina Artist Management specializes representing entertainers and musicians.
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