Switzerland is filled with high society from princesses to movie stars and it is a playground for the rich and famous but sometimes can land an uncomfortable encounter when it comes to racism.
Oprah Winfrey, who is one of the most powerful and richest women in the world, said that she had encountered racism when she visited Trois Pommes, a high end Zurich boutique, when a sales clerk refuses to show her a $38,000 handbag and told the billionaire media mogul that she could not afford it.
The encounter was revealed in an interview on Oprah’s role in an up and coming film, “The Butler”, which is about an African-American butler who works in the White House in the 20th Century and is a witness to the major political events of that time. Oprah, who plays the wife of the butler, was asked if she had ever been victim of a racial slur. She replied that nobody in their right mind would call her a derogatory or racist word.
It was in response to that question that she told the story in Zurich. Oprah mentioned that she didn’t have her eyelashes on but she was in full Oprah Winfrey gear wearing a Donna Karan skirt, and a little sandal. The assumption was that she is not that well known in Zurich because her show is not shown there.
The Swiss Tourism Office was then quick to offer an apology to the media icon. Daniela Bear, a spokeswoman for the Swiss tourism office told the press that they are very sorry for what had happened to her and also mentioned that they believe all of their guests and clients should be treated with respect and in a professional way. The tourism office also tweeted that the store clerk acted terribly wrong.
It was later discovered that the bag was a crocodile-leather Tom Ford design and named for actress Jennifer Aniston, priced at 35,000 Swiss francs. The boutique owner Trudie Goetz apologized for the incident and stated that the incident was more of a misunderstanding because of the language barrier and less of a racism issue.
Goetz also added that the shop assistant claimed he had asked Oprah if she would like to see the bag, but that she refused. Oprah also asked about the price and that is why the assistant answered how much it was. Goetz also said that the assistant stated that the store carries a less expensive item and did not tell Oprah that the bag was too expensive for her.
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