Switzerland apologizes to Oprah for store assistant’s racism

The celebrity earned an estimated $77 million last year but was denied a $40,000 bag because it was "too expensive" VIDEO

Topics: Video, Oprah, Racism, Switzerland, Celebrity, Tina Turner,

Switzerland’s tourism office has issued an apology to Oprah after the celebrity revealed she had a racist encounter with a shopkeeper in Zurich.

Oprah recounted the experience on “Entertainment Tonight,” telling host Nancy O’Dell that, in town for Tina Turner’s wedding in July, she was shopping and came upon an attractive handbag priced at around $40,000. When she expressed interest in the bag, the store assistant demurred, saying “No. It’s too expensive.”

The star, currently ranked as the most powerful celebrity in the world by Forbes, persisted: “One more time, I tried. I said, ‘But I really do just want to see that one,’ and the shopkeeper said, ‘Oh, I don’t want to hurt your feelings,’ and I said, ‘Okay, thank you so much. You’re probably right, I can’t afford it.’ And I walked out of the store.”

“I could’ve had the whole blow-up thing and thrown down the black card, but why do that? But that clearly is, you know … it (racism) still exists. Of course it does,” said Oprah, who earned $77 million last year alone, according to Forbes.

You Might Also Like

Daniela Baer, a spokeswoman for the Swiss tourism office, told The Associated Press on Friday that “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.”

The store’s owner, Trudie Goetz, has also apologized, but called it a “misunderstanding.” “I have to admit that the employee is Italian. Of course, she speaks English, but not as well as her mother tongue,” she said.

Prachi Gupta
Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 10
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Michael Ohl/Museum fur Naturkunde

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Soul-Sucking Dementor Wasp

    Latin name: Ampulex dementor

    Truong Ngyuen

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    10,000th reptile species

    Latin name: Cyrtodactylus vilaphongi

    Jodi Rowley/Australian Museum

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Colour-changing thorny frogs

    Latin name: Gracixalus lumarius

    Judith L. Eger

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Long-fanged bat

    Latin name: Hypsugo dolichodon

    Neang Thy Moe/FFI

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Stealthy wolf snake

    Latin name: Lycodon zoosvictoriae

    Michael Janes

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Feathered coral

    Latin name: Ovabunda andamanensis

    Jerome Constant

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    World's second-longest insect

    Phryganistria heusii yentuensis

    Nantasak Pinkaew

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Slide 8

    Latin name: Sirindhornia spp

    Tim Johnson

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Slide 9

    Tylototriton shanorum

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...