June 16, 2013

Did Putin pocket Patriots owner's Super Bowl ring? Nyet, he says

Robert Kraft's version of the 2005 'exchange' differs from the Russian president's, the New York Post reports.

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV The Associated Press

LONDON — Russian President Vladimir Putin is denying insinuations that he stole New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft's Super Bowl ring that's on display in the Kremlin, but says he's ready to buy him another ring as a gift. Putin was reacting Sunday through a spokesman to a New York Post story quoting remarks made by Kraft at an awards gala at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel last Thursday.

click image to enlarge

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a 2005 Super Bowl ring belonging to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft during a meeting outside St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2005. Kraft says Putin pocketed the ring, according to the New York Post; Putin says it was a gift.

The Associated Press

"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, as quoted by the Post. "I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out."

The diamond-encrusted Super Bowl ring worth about $25,000 changed hands while Kraft was visiting St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2005 with an American business delegation that met Putin. At the time, Kraft had said he gave the ring to Putin as a gift.

But the Post story quoted Kraft as saying at Carnegie Hall's Medal of Excellence gala that he had an "emotional tie to the ring" and wanted it back, but the White House intervened and said it would be in the interest of U.S.-Russian relations to claim it was a gift.

Putin arrived in London on Sunday to meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron, and Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, was asked about the Post story.

"Back in 2005 I stood behind the president's back and I saw how that ring was presented to him. All that talk about some kind of pressure that was exerted on him (Kraft) should be the subject of a detailed talk with psychoanalysts, I think," Peskov told The Associated Press.

"At the same time, I am aware that this gentleman (Kraft) is feeling such a horrible pain about the 2005 loss," Peskov said. "The president will be ready to send him another ring as a gift, which he (Putin) can buy with his own money."

Stacey James, a spokesperson for the Kraft Group, the holding company for Kraft's business ventures, including the Patriots, said Sunday that the Post article shouldn't be taken too seriously.

"It's a humorous, anecdotal story that Robert retells for laughs," James said in a statement. "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. In particular, he credits President Putin for modernizing the Russian economy. "

The statement said "an added benefit from the attention this story gathered eight years ago was the creation of some Patriots fan clubs in Russia."

The Super Bowl ring is on display in the Kremlin library along with other gifts to the Russian leader, according to Peskov.

Kraft can take some consolation because he has two other Super Bowl rings given to him for his team's other NFL championships.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)