New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft revealed the true sequence of events that ended with Russian President Vladimir Putin making off with his Super Bowl ring in 2005. At the time, Kraft claimed it was a gift. Speaking at a gala in New York City last night, however, he admitted Putin stole the ring and the White House eventually intervened in attempts to get it back.
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 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 wouldreally 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.
The ring had a reported value of $25,000.
Immediately after the incident, there was speculation that Putin had, in fact, gone full Thomas Crown and pulled a fast one. Such theories were shot down when Kraft said the ring had a gift born out of “respect and admiration.”