- Trudie Goertz took a swipe at Oprah’s diva tendencies, saying that international stars like to be ‘left in peace’ in her country
- Oprah had accused one of her staff of ‘racism’ for refusing to show her a $38,000 handbag at the Zurich store
- Italian sales assistant, 37, won’t be fired or punished and ‘did everything right’ in the eyes of her boss
- Meanwhile, says she is ‘sorry’ that she ever brought up the incident during interview to promote her new film
‘I think that incident in Switzerland was just an incident in Switzerland. I’m really sorry that it got blown up.
‘I purposefully did not mention the name of the store,’ Winfrey said. ‘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.’
The firestorm blew up after Oprah – who is promoting a film – gave an interview with Entertainment Tonight, in which she recalled a clerk at an upscale Zurich boutique refusing to show her a handbag.
Winfrey said she was told she could not afford the $38,000 tom Ford Jennifer tote and said it proved that ‘racism is still an issue’.
Meanwhile, Frau Goertz said today: ‘For God’s sake, no! I do not judge people according to their skin color, nor according to their income. I treat everyone equally. And I also expect my employees to do the same.’
MailOnline has learned that the saleslady in question is Italian, aged 37, and was not a full-time employee of the ritzy Trois Pommes shop in Zurich where the incident took place – but she was sent there from the sister-store in upscale St. Moritz to help out.
Now it is unclear where she is as she lies low in fear of ‘public hatred’.
Goetz, who was ironically also a guest at the wedding of Tina Turner – the reason why Oprah was in the country, has been left to speak for her.
‘It’s absurd,’ she said. ‘Oprah came into the business, wanted to see the crocodile bag. She inquired about the price. When my saleswoman told her that it cost 35,000 francs and then offered to show her cheaper ones, she walked away.
And in a possible slap to Oprah’s diva tendencies, she added: ‘That is something that international stars appreciate in our country – that you leave them in peace.’
Ms. Goetz, who regularly features in the society pages of Swiss newspapers and magazines, said that there will be ‘no repercussions’ for her employee – an Italian woman who worked for five years in a boutique in Milan before joining her.
She went on: ‘She did everything right. I can’t blame her. She has been working for five years with me and is an excellent seller. She usually works in St. Moritz where there is a MOST demanding clientele.
She is so very sensitive. I repeat once again; my saleslady only meant well because she wanted to show other bags to Oprah. To demonstrate the whole range is, for me, a perfect service. I find it regrettable that Oprah has come to this service from exactly the wrong way.
‘I saw Oprah at Tina’s wedding but I only knew her from TV. We didn`t speak, and now unfortunately since then, this is played out before the entire world.
‘I hope the business will not suffer as a result of this. I hope I can speak with Oprah to resolve the situation personally, as quickly as possible.’
Today, it seemed that Oprah – who earned $77m last year, according to Forbes, was desperately trying to take her foot out of the mess she’d put it in.
Last night, the star gave an interview on the red carpet of The Butler, in which she has a role.
She said: ‘I’m in a store and the person doesn’t obviously know that I carry the black card and so they make an assessment based upon the way I look and who I am,’ said Winfrey, who earned $77 million in the year ending in June, according to Forbes magazine.
‘I didn’t have anything that said “I have money”: I wasn’t wearing a diamond stud. I didn’t have a pocketbook. I didn’t wear Louboutin shoes. I didn’t have anything,’ she said.
‘You should be able to go in a store looking like whatever you look like and say “I’d like to see this”. That didn’t happen.’
Swiss tourism officials and the boutique owner apologized for the incident last week, but Winfrey insists there’s no need.
‘It’s not an indictment against the country or even that store,’ she continued. ‘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!’
Ironically, Oprah also came under fire today from the Swiss animal rights group Four Paws (Vier Pfoten) which slammed her for wanting to buy a crocodile skin bag and called on Trois Pommes to withdraw the item from sale.
‘We do not know if Ms. Winfrey actually wanted to buy the bag,’ said Chantal Häberling, spokeswoman for the group. ‘But she should know crocodiles suffer for the production of such items.
‘The animals are kept in extremely small enclosures,’ she said. ‘To kill them the animals are beaten with a hammer on the head, and in some farms and it sometimes takes two hours before they are dead.’
Oprah is an avowed animal rights spokeswoman. PETA, the world’s largest animal rights group, named her “person of the year” in 2008 after she spoke out against the wearing of fur.