A Lot of People ‘Sorry’ About Oprah Winfrey Purse Incident

A round of apologies cap a strange and unfortunate encounter in a Swiss boutique

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Oprah Winfrey at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live in Los Angeles, on Aug. 12, 2013.
Mike Windle / Getty Images

Oprah Winfrey at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live in Los Angeles, on Aug. 12, 2013.

Oprah Winfrey is sorry. A Zurich store clerk is sorry. Switzerland is sorry. All this international apologizing can be traced back to an unfortunate incident over a $38,000 handbag.

While on a European visit promoting Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Winfrey recounted a story of entering a Swiss shop in July and having a clerk refuse to show her an expensive Tom Ford bag on the grounds it was too costly for her, which Winfrey interpreted as a racist affront.

The unnamed clerk says the entire situation was simply a misunderstanding and she was willing to show the bag, but was offering up a less expensive model at the time. She tells Swiss media she was in no way racist. She has apologized. The storeowner says spotty English was to blame.

(MORE: Switzerland’s Xenophobia: It’s Not Just About Oprah)

Now Winfrey has apologized too, saying to a group of press, “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 in 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.”

Oprah didn’t buy the purse, but she could have. In fact, the  media mogul—worth about $2.8 billion—could have purchased more than 75,000  of them.