Daniel Doherty

This is one of the strangest and most bizarre stories I’ve read about in a while:

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft revealed the real story behind a 2005 meeting with Vladimir Putin, during which the Russian president pocketed his Super Bowl ring, worth more than $25,000. Kraft, at the time, claimed the diamond-encrusted bauble was a gift, but he now admits Putin stole it, and the White House intervened when he demanded 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.” …

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.

So when Vladimir Putin isn’t scaring children or vacationing shirtless or lecturing the United States government about civil liberties, he’s stealing Super Bowl rings? What a guy! I’m not exactly sure what’s worse: the fact that his thuggery runs so deep that he literally stole an American citizen’s personally engraved, $25,000 Super Bowl ring or that the United States government politely yet forcefully told Mr. Kraft to kiss it goodbye because they didn’t want him damaging “U.S.-Soviet” relations, or whatever. Stunning.

By the way, if the ring is actually sitting in the Kremlin library these days, good luck trying to convince anyone in the Obama administration to help get it back. That ring is long gone.

UPDATE: Hold up. He didn't actually steal it? Via CNN:

That's the way Putin sees it, the president's spokesman said Sunday.

"What Mr. Kraft is saying now is weird," Dmitry Peskov said. "I was standing 20 centimeters away from him and Mr. Putin and saw and heard how Mr. Kraft gave this ring as a gift."

The 4.94-carat ring is in the Kremlin's library, where all official state gifts are kept, he said. It is worth more than $25,000, according to multiple reports from 2005.

A Kraft spokesman said Sunday the story is a humorous anecdote that Kraft "retells for laughs."

"He loves that the 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," said Stacey James, a spokesman for The Kraft Group.

Either way, the ring isn't coming back. Good thing Kraft has more than one.


Daniel Doherty

Daniel Doherty is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @danpdoherty.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography