UPDATE: A spokesman for Vladimir Putin has denied he stole the ring, calling the accusation “weird.”
The owner of the New England Patriots is coming forward with a wild tale: he says Russian President Vladimir Putin actually stole his Super Bowl ring in 2005 — and that the White House urged him to drop the matter in the interest of international relations.
Robert Kraft was visiting St. Petersburg with other American business executives when he took the 4.94-carat ring out simply to show Putin. Putin put it on — and then dropped it in his pocket and walked away with it.
“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 an audience Thursday, 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.”
Kraft wanted it back — but revealed that he received a call from the George W. Bush White House that said, “It would really be in the best interest of U.S.-Soviet relations if you meant to give the ring as a present.” The Soviet Union, of course, had already collapsed.
“I really didn’t [want to],” Kraft recalled, according to the newspaper. “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.’”
So, Kraft released a statement saying he decided to gift Putin the ring out of “respect and admiration.”
”Upon seeing the ring, President Putin, a great and knowledgeable sports fan, was clearly taken with its uniqueness,” Kraft said at the time. ”At that point, I decided to give him the ring.”
Kraft said the ring is now kept in the Kremlin library.