Russian President Vladimir Putin mockingly said he’s having an "expensive" replacement made for the Super Bowl ring New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft accused him of pilfering.
“If it is so precious to Kraft and the team, I have a proposal. We will ask our firms to make a really good, big thing, so everyone will see what an expensive thing it is, with good metal and a stone,” the Russian president insisted, according to the New York Post.
In that way, “this jewel is passed on from generation to generation in the team whose interests Mr. Kraft represents.”
Putin's remarks came on Friday during a panel discussion with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum in his hometown.
The Moscow-based newspaper Kommersant reported at the time that Putin tried on the ring, which is studded with 124 diamonds, and then pocketed it after Kraft showed it to him during a meeting with U.S. executives in Russia. Kraft then issued a statement saying the ring was gift, “an act of serendipity, and one that I am honored to have experienced.”
Kraft rekindled the debate at an awards ceremony in New York last week when he told a crowd that Putin did indeed put the ring in his pocket and walk out of the room after trying it on and saying, “I could kill someone with this,” the New York Post reported.
That was just “a humorous, anecdotal story that Robert re-tells for laughs,” an unidentified Patriots spokesman said in comments posted on the National Football League’s website.
“In 2005, I was standing right behind the president and I saw how he was given this ring as a present,” Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, told reporters in the U.K. over the weekend, where Putin attended the Group of Eight summit.
He called accusations that Putin stole the ring "weird."
“What Mr. Kraft is saying now is weird,” Peskov said told CNN. “I was standing 20 centimeters away from him and Mr. Putin and saw and heard how Mr. Kraft gave this ring as a gift.”
Putin said today that he doesn’t remember either Kraft or the ring.
Bloomberg News contributed to this report.
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