Wilhelmina Models (OTCQX: WHLM) is a modeling agency founded in 1967 by the model Wilhelmina Cooper and her husband Bruce Cooper in Manhattan. In 2010, Wilhelmina Models started a sub-brand called "Digital Empire Modeling" for new digital-era modeling talents.
In February 2009, the company was acquired by New Century Equity Holdings Corp., a publicly traded company. New Century subsequently changed its name to Wilhelmina International, Inc. and now trades under the ticker symbol WHLM.
Prior to the transaction, the agency was owned and run by Horst-Dieter Esch and Brad Krassner, who purchased 50% from Esch in 1999. Currently Esch and Krassner are Directors of the Company. The company's largest shareholder is Newcastle Partners, L.P. Messrs. Esch and Krassner also remain significant shareholders of the company.
The agency was sold in 1988 to Horst-Dieter Esch for $5 million. He later made his daughter Natasha Esch president as a twenty-first birthday present. The Wilhelmina Guide to Modeling was published in 1996 by Simon & Schuster, New York. Although authorship is attributed to Natasha Esch, actual writing credit is given to C.L. Walker, who was a Wilhelmina model at the time.
The Wilhelmina agency has offices in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Austin.
In 2004, VA based Modelogic Agency entered a license agreement with Wilhelmina and became Modelogic Wilhelmina. Within the same year, the agency formed a second division (Wilhelmina Image) as a scouting/development program.
In 2007, Wilhelmina came together with Charlotte, North Carolina- based agency founded by Scott Cooper forming Wilhelmina-Evolution. Wilhelmina-Evolution discovered, at age 16, 2010 Sports Illustrated cover model Brooklyn Decker.
Since 2008, Wilhelmina's president, Sean Patterson, has judged the TV Land reality show, She's Got the Look, where 20 women over 35 compete for a lucrative contract with Wilhelmina and a photospread in Self.
In June 2009, Wilhelmina tabbed Harrisburg, PA - based agency founded by Kelli Harman forming Wilhelmina-PA. Wilhelmina continues to create licensing agreements with agencies across the United States as well as other successful international markets including Panama and Italy. Licensed Wilhelmina International agencies are proprietary feeder agencies for the New York, Los Angeles and Miami boards and will continue to assist in keeping the board fresh to assist in maintaining Wilhelmina as one of the top agencies in the world. Wilhelmina Fashion Academy, located in Scottsdale, Arizona, teaches photography, acting, runway, and other aspects of the fashion business. Other states/cities that currently have a local Wilhelmina agency include Rochester, Phoenix, Denver, Ohio, Texas and Salt Lake City.
In May 2011, Wilhelmina entered into a license agreement with US Talent Management, Rochester, NY - based agency founded by Billy Powell forming Wilhelmina Rochester and W Evolve as their scouting/development division.
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