Robert Kraft is a true Patriot. The owner of the New England Patriots claimed to have let Russian president Vladimir Putin get away with stealing his Super Bowl ring in 2005 at the request of the White House.
At the time, Kraft released a statement indicating the costly item was given to Putin as a gift when they met at a conference of business executives near St. Petersburg. On Thursday night, Kraft told a different story while attending Carnegie Hall’s Medal of Excellence Gala at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.
“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 told a crowd at the Waldorf-Astoria, via 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.”
Kraft's revelation confirmed earlier speculation that he hadn't intended to part with his prize from the Patriots' win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX.
"It could be an international incident of sorts, a misunderstanding of Super Bowl proportions. Or it could be a very, very generous gift," wrote Donovan Stack of The Boston Globe in 2005. "Whatever the case, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is out one championship ring, and President Vladimir Putin of Russia has scooped up some very flashy bling."
In an apparent attempt to quell such conjecture, Kraft issued a statement indicating that he had opted to part with the ring after noticing that Putin was "clearly taken with its uniqueness."
"I decided to give him the ring as a symbol of the respect and admiration that I have for the Russian people and the leadership of President Putin," Kraft said in a 2005 statement obtained by USA Today.
Several years later, Kraft claimed that the ring was not a gift and a call from the White House kept him from attempting to recover it.
According to the Post, Kraft recalled this week that someone from the George W. Bush White House told him that "It would really be in the best interest of US-Soviet relations if you meant to give the ring as a present.”
In 2005, ESPN.com reported that that the ring was encrusted with 124 diamonds. Per NFL.com, the ring is worth upwards of $25,000. But can anyone put a price on having an anecdote like this? Presumably, Kraft's two other Super Bowl rings made the loss easier to handle.