Oprah’s mom refuses to pay $155,000 bill at high-end fashion boutique

Oprah sure is having some problems with her mom. In August Celebitchy reported that her mother, 73-year-old Vernita Lee, was having trouble taking care of herself. She’s diabetic with eye problems. Oprah was trying to convince her to move into a nearby assisted living facility, but Vernita wasn’t having it.

Now it’s been revealed that Vernita has been sued by high-end clothing store Valentina for an outstanding $155,000 bill. Vernita has countersued the store, claiming that they should never have extended her credit in the first place. This is the second time she’s had trouble with Valentina – she also ran up a bill of 174,285 in 2002.

Oprah Winfrey’s mom is refusing to pay back a $155K bill to a clothing store, and her defense is basically to play dumb.

Vernita Lee claims she shouldn’t have to pay the gigantic bill to Valentina, a boutique in Wisconsin, because they took advantage of her “lack of knowledge … and/or capacity” when they opened the account, reports the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. What’s more, her lawyer says the store didn’t disclose finance charges prominently enough.

And to think, this could all go away with the change lying around Oprah’s chintz-covered cushions.

[From TMZ]

The story is a little more complicated than TMZ makes it out to be. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the terms of Vernita’s earlier lawsuit with Valentina required them not to extend her credit in the future. But two years later they issued her another card. So she does seem to have a legitimate case against them. Why in the world they would WANT to do that for a client they’d had to sue in the past is beyond me. They shouldn’t be all that surprised that the same thing happened again.

Oprah must be one of the best money managers around. I have no idea where Vernita gets her money, but I’d think that if she’s given credit like that Oprah must help her out a bit. It seems like she is having trouble managing some of her responsibilities. Hopefully now she’ll consider moving into that assisted living facility Oprah was so fond of, and cut up her credit cards.

Vernita Lee

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31 Responses to “Oprah’s mom refuses to pay $155,000 bill at high-end fashion boutique”

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  1. RubySue says:


  2. Leandra says:

    The store is totally to blame. They’re going to have to eat this one. Meanwhile, Oprah should be on top of what her mom is doing. I would hope she is checking on her pretty much on a daily basis.

  3. DarthVadersLoveChild says:

    It looks like the Colonel extended her a bit too much credit too.

  4. Ron says:

    Oprah has had issues with her mother her whole life. I think she really tries to be a good daughter, but it must be incredibly difficult when your own mother looks at you like an ATM.

    Leandra, it is not the childs job to look after their parents if they don’t want to. My sister and I had a terrible relationship with our father and had no contact with him for the last 12 years of his life. It’s sad that it had to be that way, but you don’t have to like or deal with your family members. We both have looked after our mother and grandmothers though :-)

  5. geronimo says:

    Sounds like a very cynical move on the shop’s part. Re-issue the mother with another card in the full knowledge that she’ll more than likely overspend again but thinking, hey, no matter, Oprah’ll pick up the tab.

  6. heehee says:

    Spitting image, IMO

  7. Anon says:

    Agreed with Geronimo. I’ll bet they never would have given her credit if she didn’t have an extremely rich daughter who would bail her out.

  8. Lauri says:

    Regardless of the fact that they shouldn’t have issued her credit a second time, the point is that she evidently received the merchandise…so what? Now she thinks she can keep it for free?

    In my book that makes her nothing but a common thief.

  9. Kaiser says:

    Er, I actually have to disagree – whether or not the corporation screwed up, Oprah’s mom should not have used the credit card – she’s not senile, demented or riddled with Alzeheimer’s, as far as we know. She just likes to shop and NOT PAY HER BILLS.

  10. KateKap says:

    @ Kaiser Absolutely right!

  11. geronimo says:

    Oh I agree it’s the mother’s responsibility to pay for it, just saying I think the shop owners thought Oprah’d cough up and not make a big issue out of it.

  12. Kaiser says:

    @Geronimo – Yep. Plus, they get extra publicity. No one looks like a winner, though.

  13. geronimo says:

    Kaiser – Yeah, which makes me feel a bit sorry for Oprah here. You know the accusations are going to be – but she’s your mother, $155k is small change to you etc etc. Not an Oprah fan but she seems to be between a rock and a hard place with her mother’s behaviour.

  14. Kaiser says:

    @Geronimo – Would you still feel bad if it was Dina Lohan? :lol:

  15. geronimo says:

    Ok, kaiser, I’ve had a moment of weakness re O but I’m not actually clinically insane….. :twisted:

  16. Leandra says:

    “The terms of Vernita’s earlier lawsuit with Valentina required them not to extend her credit in the future. But two years later they issued her another card. So she does seem to have a legitimate case against them.”

    It has been legally established in writing with this two year old suit that she is not responsible so the store is liable. Oprah should not pay a penny of this either.

  17. Alecto says:

    They’re both to blame. Both should have known better after the first time around. Both probably figured that Oprah would pay the tab.

  18. Dirty Martini says:

    Give me a freakin’ break. Its the stores fault????? She shouldnt have to pay because the store knew she was a deadbeat? The store was stupid, but its not their fault she’s a deadbeat. She owes, she owes, she owes….and she should pay, pay pay. Giving criminals breaks because they are known criminals just ticks me off beyond all belief.

  19. chaz says:

    I ALWAYS have to watch what i spend, and repay my debts, same as everyone else i assume. Why do celebrities and their “reflected glory” relatives think they are above that? PAY UP BITCHES!! if you can’t, don’t walk around pretending like your s#%t don’t stink. “…they shouldn’t have extended my credit.” she shouldn’t have bought aaaaallllll that crap if she couldn’t pay for it! geeeeeez.

  20. aspen says:

    If she doesn’t pay it, they should put her entitled ass in jail…like everyone else. They won’t. But they should.

    It’s not “she didn’t pay her bill.” It’s, “She took 150k+ dollars worth of merchandise from the store with no intention of paying for it.”

    It’s grand larceny.

    Not cute. Not funny. Not awwww.

    She’s a thief. Pure and simple.

  21. tif says:

    as highlighted, she cannot be held ‘responsible’ for the bill because the store was not to extend her a line of credit subsequently. i don’t think that can be disputed here. what is tragic here is that you have a woman who is sound of mind who likely realized that she could acquire all of this merchandise and cry victim because she knew she didn’t have to pay once they came to collect. this seems like a calculated scheme. i think she knew exactly what she was doing.

  22. manda says:

    You would think that the credit card for the store was through some credit card company (although I don’t know how “high end boutiques” issue credit), so it would seem to me that the company that issued the card didn’t do an adequate credit check. Also, her last name isn’t winfrey. Unless she walks around with a nametag that says, “Hi! I’m Oprah’s mother”, how would people know? Finally, wasn’t oprah raised by her grandmother?

  23. Acemeister says:

    She kind of looks like Jar Jar Binks’ general, doesn’t she ?

  24. e says:

    The store should not have issued her the card, this is true. BUT she should not have applied for and/or accepted the card, either – I’m sure that earlier lawsuit was binding in both directions. Given that the store DID issue the card, in which issuance she played a pivotal role (i.e. accepting it) and that she then USED it, she shouldn’t have a leg to stand on. IMO. I don’t know what the legal loopholes are, but you know… you shouldn’t park your car on my lawn. But if you DO, and I proceed to demolish it with a sledgehammer, the fault is still mine – even though you were the one who opened the door. I really hope she does not get away with this.

  25. Jinxy says:

    If you take out a loan it should be paid back. She took the card with the promise she would pay for the goods she has enjoyed, they can’t be repossessed they are now used clothes.

    I find it bizarre that this woman thinks she can steal 155k and get away with it. No court is going to let her do that. There is a reasonable expectation of payment with her families help which would not cause hardship. That’s what a court is going to be looking at.

  26. Jeanne says:

    C’mon Oprah pay your Mama’s bill. That’s just chump change for you.

  27. Rose says:

    The fact that her mother thinks she can claim limited capacity to get out of paying the bill, means she admits to be unable to care for herself. If I were Oprah I would ask my lawyer once she admits that in court and the judge chooses to dismiss, use it to have her placed in assisted living or evaluated. Then if her mother fights it, saying it was untrue and she lied .. remind her that is perjury with the intent to commit felony theft, since she knew she never intended to pay. Hard love Oprah, you have done shows about it, practice what you preach.

  28. I agree with rose – the assisted living is a great idea, not only because of her health issues but if it is now her reasoning for being unable to pay this bill being out and about isnt exactly helping her case.

  29. Tim says:

    I think the store was mad for giving the credit or they just wanted the publicity, which is more likely. I don’t think spending $150k on clothes is going to do her much good though.

  30. Steve says:

    Abnormal at the least – how do you spend that sort of money in a boutique

  31. Tom says:

    I think she has other option rather than spending so much at a single shop