Geneva, Switzerland prides itself as being one of the world’s most expensive places to live and visit. It is a place filled with items of luxury and people of great wealth. It is also a common vacationing spot among a-list celebrities, including billionaire host Oprah Winfrey who recently went to the place to attend Tina Turner’s wedding. Tina is Oprah’s longtime friend who currently resides in Zunich.
Opposite to the magnificence exuded by the place, Oprah’s visit was anything but glamorous. During an interview with Entertainment Tonight about her recent movie The Butler, which reportedly earned $24 million on its first three days in the box office, the host-actress brought up her unfriendly experience.
When entering a high-end boutique named Trois Pommes, Oprah asked to take a look at a pricey handbag. Not knowing who was standing before her, the sales clerk refused the media mogul stating, “No, no, no, you don’t want to see that one. You want to see this one. Because that one will cost too much; you will not be able to afford that.”
The purse, made from crocodile leather, was designed by Tom Ford for actress Jennifer Aniston. It was priced at 35,000 Swiss francs or $38,000 as revealed by boutique owner Trudie Goetz. On the other hand, the public broadcaster earned $77 million this year and it is obvious that she can afford to buy the said purse, even thousands of its kind as based on her earnings.
Goetz was all apologies to Oprah, “I’m very sorry about this incident.” Goetz explained it was not an act of racism and it only happened due to miscommunication and language barrier since the clerk speaks mainly Italian and can barely talk in English. The shop assistant apparently asked Oprah if she wanted to view the bag and Oprah responded; "No I just want to look". That is when the employee took it upon herself to state the price of the bag.
Zurich Tourism spokesperson Christian Trottmann also expressed his regrets on the incident and considered inviting Oprah for a tour of the city. “We are more regretting than apologizing. We strive to make sure Zurich is always presented in a positive light, and this kind of incident is obviously not very helpful.” According to reports, 23 percent of the 8 million residents in Switzerland are non-swiss. The country earned over $39 billion from tourism in 2011.
Oprah also mentioned during the interview that she has faced various racism incidents in the past similar to that when shopping in luxury boutiques.