In 2005, Russian President Vladimir Putin walked away from a meeting in St. Petersburg with Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl ring, worth more than $25,000. At the time, Kraft issued a statement saying that Putin was “clearly taken with its uniqueness” and so “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.”
Now, however, Kraft says that Putin stole the ring. According to the New York Post, Kraft told the full story when speaking at Carnegie Hall’s Medal of Excellence gala at the Waldorf-Astoria on Thursday:
Kraft explained the incident happened while Sandy Weill and other business execs were in St. Petersburg. “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 the crowd at Carnegie Hall’s Medal of Excellence gala at the Waldorf-Astoria.“I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out.”
Kraft apparently issued the statement at the behest of the Bush administration:
But Kraft really wanted the 4.94-carat bauble back, he said Thursday, admitting he’d gotten a call from the George W. Bush-run White House, saying, “‘It would really be in the best interest of US-Soviet relations if you meant to give the ring as a present.” (In fact the Soviet Union had collapsed 14 years earlier.)
But, Kraft said, “I really didn’t [want to]. I had an emotional tie to the ring, it has my name on it. I don’t want to see it on eBay. There was a pause on the other end of the line, and the voice repeated, ‘It would really be in the best interest if you meant to give the ring as a present.’ ” The ring is now reportedly kept in the Kremlin library.
Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at email@example.com.More Prachi Gupta.