More than 100 models are demanding their last paychecks from a Manhattan-based talent agency that closed its doors several weeks ago.
The commercial models, many of them actors as well, said that owner David Roos of the Gilla Roos Agency failed to pay them for their last jobs, totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars collectively.
"I kind of equated him to the Bernie Madoff of the acting and modeling world," model Hai Ninh told News 4 New York.
Two dozen models shared their stories, including Yue Xu, who said, "There's about 120 of us who are owed money, with an average of $3,000 per person."
"The worst two days of my life," complained model Andrea Bordeaux. "It was a hair job, I sat in a chair for nine hours getting my hair braided, and then the next day I had a seven-hour photo shoot with my hair being pulled and twisted. I lost a lot of hair doing this job. I want my money."
It doesn't look like that will happen anytime soon.
Roos' attorney, Wayne Greenwald, said his client is "insolvent," and adds this is a "tragedy for everybody, a sign of the times."
Roos himself wrote an email to one model.
"I have no money, no house, no IRA," he said. "I have nothing ... I have lost everything. Everything I had was in Gilla Roos and that is broken ... I feel terrible about not paying your daughter and all the other models."
Roos and his attorney both said efforts to get a loan to restart the business have failed.
Gilla Roos, according to the models, was the largest commercial print agency in New York, with hundreds and perhaps thousands of models landing jobs through its efforts.
"I didn't think a company that had been around for 35 years would go out of business," Ninh said.
The loss of paychecks totalling anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 per model is hard for most of them.
"We wait tables to get by, and we borrow money from our parents," Bordeaux said. "There have been times when I've had to take different credit cards to get new head shots because I couldn't afford to pay for them on your own. I'm getting emotional -- $4,000, $2,000, $500 -- that's a lot of money."
Many of the models have won judgements in Manhattan Small Claims Court in recent days.
"I have belief, but (will I) ever see a dime? I don't know," model Jessica Eckland said.
Greenwald suggested that it's unlikely they'll ever be paid, leading model Brian Fuqua to say, "He is a crook and he needs to be prosecuted. I don't care if I get my $1,800 back. I want the man to burn."