News Column

Oprah Winfrey Regrets Handbag Incident in Switzerland

Aug. 13, 2013

Oprah Winfrey has expressed regrets that the handbag incident in a Swiss boutique led to a media storm because of her remarks on racism, news reports said Tuesday.

The top US talk show host said late Monday, at the premiere of Lee Daniels' The Butler in Los Angeles, that the incident had been blown out of proportion.

"I think that incident in Switzerland was just an incident in Switzerland," CNN quoted her as saying. "I'm really sorry that it got blown up. I purposely did not mention the name of the store. I'm sorry that I said it was Switzerland."

Winfrey continued: "I was just referencing it as an example of being in a place where people don't expect that you would be able to be there."

In July, Winfrey was in Zurich to attend singer Tina Turner's wedding to German impresario Erwin Bach, when she visited the exclusive Trois Pommes boutique, Blick newspaper wrote.

In an interview with US programme Entertainment Tonight, Winfrey said she wanted to take a closer look at a handbag selling for about $38,000, but an assistant refused to take it off the shelf, telling Winfrey "No, it's too expensive."

Winfrey, whose personal fortune is estimated at nearly $3 billion, said she left the store without protest.

International media seized on the alleged racist incident, as it came on the heels of a controversy over the Swiss town of Bremgarten, where asylum seekers need special permits to use the local swimming pool and sports grounds.

The shop assistant who allegedly treated Winfrey badly has given a different version of the incident.

She said she did offer to show Winfrey the expensive crocodile leather bag, even though she let her customer know that it cost 35,000 Swiss francs (38,000 dollars) and that there were less costly bags available, according to an interview with the Swiss Sunday newspaper SonntagsBlick.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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