Oprah told $40,000 Tom Ford purse ‘too expensive’ for her by clerk
Oprah Winfrey says she had a racist encounter while shopping in Switzerland — and the national tourist office and the shop owner have apologized.
The billionaire media mogul told the U.S. program Entertainment Tonight that a shop assistant in Zurich refused to show her a black handbag priced at $39,200 because “you will not be able to afford that.”
Forbes magazine estimates that Winfrey earned $77 million in the year ending in June.
Winfrey was in town to attend last month’s wedding of her longtime pal Tina Turner, who lives in a chateau along Lake Zurich.
“We are very sorry for what happened to her, of course, because we think all of our guests and clients should be treated respectfully, in a professional way,” Daniela Baer, a spokeswoman for the Swiss tourism office, told The Associated Press on Friday.
The tourism office also posted an apology on Twitter, saying “this person acted terribly wrong.”
Shop owner Trudie Goetz told the BBC that an assistant had shown Winfrey several other items before the “misunderstanding” over the bag, which was kept behind a screen. The Blick newspaper quoted Goetz as saying the bag was priced at 35,000 Swiss francs.
She also told Blick that she was “truly sorry” because her staff are well-trained to treat customers well.
“I have to admit that the employee is Italian. Of course, she speaks English, but not as well as her mother tongue,” Goetz, owner of the Trois Pommes chain, was quoted as saying. “It was a real misunderstanding.”
In a separate telephone interview, Goetz said, “This has got nothing to with racism at all.
“It was a misunderstanding and a communication problem.”
The shop assistant, Goetz said, described the black crocodile-skin bag created for Jennifer Aniston and told Winfrey there were less expensive versions in ostrich leather and suede.
“I wanted to create a Pretty Woman moment and go and come back and buy everything and say ‘big mistake,’ but then I thought she would get a commission, so I said let’s not do that,” Winfrey told Larry King on the Internet channel ora.tv, referring to the 1990 movie starring Julia Roberts.
Winfrey was involved in another retail rebuff in Paris in 2005, when she was turned away from a Hermes boutique 15 minutes after closing time. The store said it was closed for a private public-relations event.
A Hermes executive appeared on her talk show to apologize for the “rigid and rude” behaviour of the employee.
Winfrey complimented Hermes on its handling of the incident — including sensitivity training for employees — and urged viewers to continue to buy the company’s products.
What bullshit excuse..oh he is Italian so it’s a miscommunication and not his prejudice against blacks? Nationality and language barrier has never stopped anyone from being a racist. His hatred caused him to not make all that commission money smh.