Outrage has been growing among the world’s obscenely wealthy after Oprah Winfrey revealed last week she had been humiliated in a Swiss boutique. According to Winfrey, the sales assistant told her that the $38,000 purse she wanted to look at was “too expensive” for her.
High-net-worth individuals from around the globe are speaking out about what they say is a growing problem: lower rates of cowering by the world’s sales staff, as well as a troubling tendency for them to “speak when they’re not being spoken to.”
While most jetsetters are planning to boycott Trois Pommes, the Zurich designer boutique where the attack on Oprah occurred, others says they will boycott all of Switzerland, a country once known to respect wealth. A few tycoons even say they just might buy up all of the country and turn it into a giant Alps-themed amusement park, just to “show them who’s boss.”
Rolan Friedrich, a member of the House of Hohenzollern and activist for the rich, said the Winfrey incident is a cause for concern.
“Everyone, even this pest at the purse shop, knows that Oprah Winfrey is the world’s richest and most powerful woman in media,” Friedrich said. “If peons like this sales wench can demean Oprah’s vast riches, they can do it to us, too.”
“The vendors of the world — you little sales boys and sales girls who work ten hours a day before returning to your cramped apartment where you eat a cold tin of beans while watching ‘The Voice’ — you need to realize that we are rich,” Friedrich said. “Very, very well-off. Don’t ever assume we can’t afford something you sell.”
Oprah is also drawing support from the ranks of the nouveaux riches. Wu Jindong, one of China’s most successful internet entrepreneurs — yet who was born to a peasant family — tried to put the situation in perspective.
“I believe I speak for all very rich people, from Saudi princes to Indian steel magnates, from European aristocrats to American hip-hop stars,” Jindong said. “If you sell it, we can buy it. We have money — and lots of it. You think a million dollars sounds like a lot of cash? Do you, kid? I have news for you. Some of us have a million dollars — times five or six thousand. That’s right. I’m talking billions of dollars. And we’ll spend — or not. It’s up to us.”
While Oprah has not publicly thanked the world’s super-wealthy, those close to her say she’s “touched” by the support she’s been given. One friend said that in the days after the Zurich incident, Oprah was so upset that she bought nearly 900 Tom Ford crocodile-skin purses identical to the one in Trois Pommes that was “too expensive” for her. She then had an assistant stack them in a pile, douse them with kerosene, and set them ablaze.