New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said this week that Russia's President Vladimir Putin stole his Superbowl ring in 2005 when Kraft and a group of American businessmen were visiting St. Petersburg, Russia. According to CBS Sports, what has been portrayed in the media as a "gift" of the $25,000 ring from Kraft to the Russian leader was in fact an act of open theft.
"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 New York City's Waldorf-Astoria hotel on Thursday. "I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB [sic] guys got around him and walked out.”
The KGB was the Soviet Union's chief spying agency until 1991. Since glasnost and the fall of the Soviet regime, Russia's main intelligence and security agency is known as FSB.
Kraft said that when he complained to a U.S. official that Putin had stolen from him, he got a call from the Bush White House that said, "It would really be in the best interest of US-Soviet relations if you meant to give the ring as a present."
Kraft reported, ""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.'"
At the White House's behest, Kraft released a statement that said, "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."
According to the New York Post, the ring is currently being stored in the Kremlin library.