Spa Owner Pleads Guilty to Mask Hoarding
October 22, 2020
The owner of the luxury spa where Gwyneth Paltrow famously recommended a 'vaginal steam' has landed in hot water with the courts.
Niki Schwarz, 55, owner of Tikkun Holistic Spa in Santa Monica, plead guilty in US District Court to hoarding and then selling N95 masks for eleven times list price, said the US Department of Justice in a press release.
Schwarz, who was last week charged in federal court with one count of hoarding and price gouging, agreed to plead guilty to the misdemeanor offense.
The spa owner admitted to buying up large numbers of N95 respirators in February, in anticipation of a shortage as the outbreak turned into a global pandemic.
In 2015, Hollywood star Gwyneth Paltrow made headlines around the world when she said she visited Tikkun Holistic Spa for a $50, 30-minute vaginal steaming treatment.
From February to June, prosecutors say Schwarz hoarded a staggering 20,000 N95 masks.
Her supply included 3M masks that typically cost less than $1.27 and 86-cent Alpha Pro masks - which she sold for up to $15 each.
In her plea deal, Schwarz - who has owned the spa for 11 years - admitted she bought the masks with the intention of reselling them at hugely inflated prices.
In March President Donald Trump signed an executive order to prevent hoarding and price gouging of crucial medical supplies needed to fight the deadly coronavirus.
The federal government designated N95 respirator masks as 'scarce materials' as hospital staff desperately sought them out to provide a higher level of protection.
Schwarz's activity was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service, who had received a tip.
Sliding Doors star Paltrow, 48, tweeted that a 'V-Steam' has health benefits, which apparently include easing fatigue and boosting fertility.
"The A-list celebrity endorsement sent the spa's popularity soaring and it has since become a mecca for the well-heeled and Hollywood stars," said the Daily Mail.