Robert Kraft, New England Patriots Owner, Claims Vladimir Putin Stole His Super Bowl Ring; Kremlin Denies Allegations
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft recently stated that his Super Bowl ring was stolen by Vladimir Putin in 2005 when he was visiting St. Petersburg with a number of other business executives. Kraft had previously stated that he had given Putin the ring worth $25,000 as a gift.
Kraft explains his revision of events by claiming that the White House had insisted he continue to act as though he had given Putin the ring as a gift. Apparently George W. Bush's administration feared that if Kraft demanded the ring back, insinuating it had been stolen by the Russian president, it would be a blow for U.S.-Soviet relations.
Robert Kraft giving President George Bush a New England Patriots jersey in 2005
At the Carnegie Hall’s Medal of Excellence gala at the Waldorf Astoria on Saturday, Kraft told his story to the gathered attendees. “I took out the ring and showed it to [Putin]. And he put it on and he goes, ‘I can kill someone with this ring,”’ Kraft said, according to the New York Post. “I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out.”
The ring is currently kept at the Kremlin library, where other items given to Putin are currently on display. Putin, through his spokesperson, insists that Kraft’s Super Bowl ring belongs amongst the other gifts. "I was standing 20 centimeters away from [Kraft] and Mr. Putin and saw and heard how Mr. Kraft gave this ring as a gift," Putin’s spokesman told CNN.
Kraft, who has two other Super Bowl rings for other New England Patriots NFL championship victories, has not responded to the Kremlin’s denial of his charge. However, a spokesperson for the franchise owner said, "It's a humorous, anecdotal story that Robert re-tells for laughs," Pats spokesperson Stacey James said, according to NFL.com. "He loves that his ring is at the Kremlin and, as he stated back in 2005, he continues to have great respect for Russia and the leadership of President Putin.”
The spokesperson continued on with praise for the Russian president, stating, “In particular, he credits President Putin for modernizing the Russian economy. An added benefit from the attention this story gathered eight years ago was the creation of some Patriots fan clubs in Russia."