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Oprah gets Swiss apologies after 'racist' encounter

Oprah Winfrey.
Oprah Winfrey.Today

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By Randee Dawn

After Oprah Winfrey said this week that she was recently denied service at a Swiss store over her race, a press officer for the country's tourism office has apologized for the way she was treated.

"We are very sorry for what happened to her," Daniella Baer, a spokeswoman for the Swiss tourism office, told The Associated Press on Friday.

Winfrey, who was just named as one of the 2013 recipients of the President's Medal of Freedom, revealed in an interview on Monday that while in Switzerland last month for Tina Turner's wedding celebration, a shop assistant at a handbag store told her the bags were "too expensive" for her.

As Winfrey told Entertainment Tonight, "I was in Zurich the other day, at a store whose name I will not mention. I didn't have my eyelashes on, but I was in full Oprah Winfrey gear. I had my little Donna Karan skirt and my little sandals on. But obviously 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' is not shown in Zurich.”

She explained further that she had gone into the shop, asked to see a particular bag, and was denied by the shop assistant. When she pressed, the assistant told her "you want to see this one because that one will cost too much. You will not be able to afford that."

The bag, reported the International Business Times, cost $38,000; the store was called Trois Pommes. She left the store without making a purchase.

Winfrey insists the denial came from racism. "There's two different ways to handle it. I could've had the whole blow-up thing and thrown down the (American Express) black card, and all that stuff but why do that? But (racism) still exists, of course it does."

Blick newspaper said that the owner of the boutique has also apologized for the incident, saying it was a "misunderstanding."

This is not the first time Winfrey has been shut out by a store; in 2005 she visited a Hermes shop in Paris and was denied entry. Whether it had to do with her race or the fact that the store reportedly had just closed when she arrived depended on differing versions of events.