SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia (AFP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that he had no recollection of allegedly stealing the Super Bowl ring belonging to the National Football League's New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
The New York Post reported on June 14 that Kraft had told a US audience that he had once met Putin in 2005 and showed him the $25,000 ring team players and owners are awarded for winning the US football league final.
Kraft said that Putin took the ring in his hands and then slipped it in his pocket after first joking that "I could kill someone with this ring."
"I put out my hand (to take the ring back) and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked away," he said using the acronym for the Soviet secret service to refer to Putin's security detail.
Putin's official spokesman dismissed the story last weekend by saying that he was personally witness to Kraft giving the Russian leader the ring as a present.
Putin himself was unexpectedly asked about the incident for the first time by the US moderator of his appearance at a Saint Petersburg forum with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"You know, I do not remember either Mr. Kraft or the ring," Putin said.
"They handed out some sorts of souvenirs. But if it is such a valuable thing to Mr. Kraft and his team, I have a proposal," said Putin.
"We will ask our enterprises to craft a really good, noticeable thing -- so it is clear that it is expensive, made of a good metal, with a rock -- so that this jewel is passed on from generation to generation in the team whose interests Mr. Kraft represents.
"I think that this would be the most intelligent... solution to such a difficult international problem," Putin said with a hint of a smile.
Kraft said at the US event that he had even told the White House he would love to get the 4.94-carat ring back from Putin because it meant so much to him and his team.
The ring is reportedly being kept in a special Kremlin library reserved for other gifts and Russian treasures.