Oprah Winfrey says she’s sorry handbag story ‘got blown up’

Oprah Winfrey is apologizing for the media maelstrom that followed the experience with racism she said she went through in Switzerland.

The media maven, 59, addressed the recent incident Monday at the Los Angeles premiere for Lee Daniels’ “The Butler,” a film in which she makes her first big-screen appearance in 15 years.

First, some background: The TV queen had been refused the opportunity to look at a $38,000 Tom Ford handbag at Zurich’s tony Trois Pommes store while she was shopping on her own in the Swiss city. Winfrey said the saleswoman, who didn’t recognize her, told her the Jennifer bag was “too expensive” for her. After failing to persuade the saleswoman to bring her the bag, Winfrey said, she left the boutique without making a big deal about how she was treated.

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Winfrey brought up the incident when she was asked about racism during an Entertainment Tonight interview, though she refused to mention the name of the shop.

“There’s two different ways to handle it,” Winfrey said in the interview. “I could’ve had the whole blow-up thing and thrown down the black card and all that stuff. But why do that? Clearly, [racism] still exists, of course it does.”

But the media being what it is, all the pertinent details got out. (Because nobody tussles with Oprah and gets away with it.)

The Swiss Tourism Office has since issued an apology for the mishap. But the shop claimed the whole thing was “a misunderstanding” that had nothing to do with racism and resulted in their shop girl being unfairly attacked. The saleswoman also called Winfrey “a liar,” according to German newspaper Sontaggs Blick (via the Daily Mail).

At “The Butler” premiere, she responded.

“I think that incident in Switzerland was just an incident in Switzerland,” she told the Associated Press and CNN. “I’m really sorry that it got blown up. I purposefully did not mention the name of the store.

“I’m sorry that I said it was Switzerland. 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.”

Winfrey had previously said that there had been no need for an apology from the shop.


“It’s not an indictment against the country or even that store,” she said. “It was just one person who didn’t want to offer me the opportunity to see the bag. So no apologies necessary from the country of Switzerland. If somebody makes a mistake in the United States, do we apologize in front of the whole country? No!”


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