It was all a misunderstanding, says owner of shop where Oprah Winfrey says she faced racism

Billionaire TV star alleged that a shop assistant wouldn't let her see an expensive handbag

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The Independent Culture

The owner of the luxury shop in Switzerland in which Oprah Winfrey alleged she faced racial discrimination has said it was all an "absolute misunderstanding."

Ms Winfrey suggested that she encountered racism in a luxury goods store in Zurich, saying the shop assistant wouldn't let her view a £24,000 crocodile leather bag.

The billionaire celebrity, known for her multi-award winning talk show, claimed the shop assistant said the bag was “too expensive” and refused to show it to the her last month.

But Trudie Goetz, head of the Swiss luxury chain, told the US Weekly: “This is an absolute misunderstanding. Any sales person would love to sell a crocodile bag. She simply explained [to Oprah] that the bag she wanted to look at was beautiful but in a very high price range and suggested lower priced models in leather, ostrich and so forth.”

She said the assistant worked in the store for a few years is a good salesperson and takes care of well-known customers from all over the world.

"Everyone wants to sell a crocodile bag,” she added.

Oprah said the incident proved that racism was still a problem. The Swiss national tourism board has since apologised to her, saying that the saleswoman's actions had been “terribly wrong”.

Speaking on the US TV show Entertainment Tonight, Ms Winfrey said she had been visiting Zurich for the wedding of her friend Tina Turner. She said: "I go into a store and I say to the woman, 'Excuse me, may I see the bag right above your head?' and she says to me, 'No. It's too expensive.'"

Insisting to view the handbag twice Ms Winfrey said the shop assistant refused and suggested other, cheaper handbags.

She said she asked the shop assistant: "One more time” but got the reply: “Oh, I don't want to hurt your feelings” she said. Oprah recounted her reply to this: “'Okay, thank you so much. You're probably right, I can't afford it.' And I walked out of the store."

However, Oprah doesn’t seem to upset about not having the expensive handbag in her wardrobe, as she tweeted yesterday: