While in Switzerland for Tina Turner’s wedding in July, Oprah Winfrey was prevented from purchasing a pricey handbag by a salesperson, who said the bag was ‘too expensive’ for her. Oprah was barred from even handling the bag, a $35,000 Tom Ford purse, after asking multiple times. Although she declined to give the name of the shop in her interview with Entertainment Tonight, it has since been identified as the Trois Pommes in Zurich.
The Swiss tourism office apologized for the incident today, as did the shop’s owner Trudie Gotz. Gotz told the BBC that the salesperson, somehow, didn’t recognize Oprah, but did not address whether or not the employee was racially profiling a customer.
This isn’t the first time Oprah has accused a high-end boutique of racism. In 2005 she got into a heated debate with Hermes in Paris when they wouldn’t allow her to come in shortly after closing to buy a watch (ironically, for Tina Turner). Hermes later apologized for the misunderstanding.
Race relations are already tense in Switzerland, where a recent move by some Swiss towns to keep asylum-seeking immigrants out of certain public places has been hotly contested by human rights groups and citizens who see it as a form of apartheid.