About Ed. I was introduced to him in July 2001. He was suggested to me as an investor in one of my real estate projects. I liked him a lot. He was smart, he seemed to work hard. He didn't live extravagantly except he liked to stay in nice hotels when he traveled, and we always ate well. But he never bought the big watch, the big car, the big house, the big boat, etc.
He actually engaged my with a monthly retainer, and I would have had an equity interest and board seat in Wilhelmina. Then 9/11 happened and many of the models went temporarily to Europe to work. This hurt Wilhelmina.
We retooled and planned to roll up several agencies in the spring of 2002. The issue was that the new structure was 3 times as big. I was responsible for, among other things, finding an equity investor, which I found. But, our lender, Goldman, would not make a 50% loan, citing the 9/11 exodus to Europe as a symbol of the fragility of the earnings. We actually thought it showed strength--the earnings were portable, if they were not here in USA, we could make money with models in Europe.
Ed never asked me for a dime. He never asked my investors for money. He never asked anyone for an investment in his fund--which is why I did not want to believe what happened.
Looks like Dieter Esch got tired of a bunch of model-chasers running the company he built for 20+ years. Sean Patterson is a great guy and knows the business cold. But, he is better in the trenches booking talent and making deals.
Dieter needs to be back in the Chairman's role, growing the stock of this baby.
The other guys just want to be in the company of young, hot girls and have no interest in rolling up their sleeves and getting the job done.