Vladimir Putin says he did not steal a $25,000 diamond-encrusted Super Bowl ring that’s now on display in the Kremlin Library, but he’s nonetheless prepared to buy New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft a ring of equal value, reports The Associated Press.
The New York Post quoted Kraft as having said on Thursday that when he took the ring out to show the Russian president during a business trip in 2005, Putin put it on and said, “I can kill someone with this ring,” before pocketing it and leaving.
Kraft says he wanted the ring back, but the George Bush White House nudged him into playing it off as a gift in the interest of U.S.-Russia relations. Kraft released a statement at the time saying, “President Putin, a great and knowledgeable sports fan, was clearly taken with its uniqueness. I decided to give him the ring as a symbol of the respect and admiration that I have for the Russian people and [his] leadership.”
Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, said Sunday that he was present when the ring changed hands and that, “all that talk about some kind of pressure that was exerted on him (Kraft) should be the subject of a detailed talk with psychoanalysts.”
Stacey James, a spokesperson for Kraft, said in a statement Monday that, “it’s a humorous, anecdotal story that Robert retells for laughs.” She added that, “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.”