Ed Driscoll

One Ring To Rule Them All

Even the Russians, I guess. AP reports that “Russian President Vladimir Putin walked off with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s diamond-encrusted 2005 Super Bowl ring, but was it a generous gift or a very expensive international misunderstanding?”:

Following a meeting of American business executives and Putin at Konstantinovsky Palace near St. Petersburg on Saturday, Kraft showed the ring to Putin — who tried it on, put it in his pocket and left, according to Russian news reports.

It wasn’t clear if Kraft, whose business interests include paper and packaging companies and venture capital investments, intended that Putin keep the ring.

Patriots spokesman Stacey James said Wednesday that Kraft was traveling and he hadn’t talked to him in four or five days, despite e-mails and calls. “He’s still overseas, I can’t even tell you where. … He’s not due back until next week.”

“It’s an incredible story. I just haven’t been able to talk to Robert Kraft to confirm the story,” James told The Associated Press.

However, a Kremlin official who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of compromising his position told the AP the ring was a present. “Such a present was made,” the official said.

He said Putin had given the ring to the Kremlin library where other foreign gifts are kept.

James said the ring’s worth was “substantially more” than $15,000, as the value had been reported. He refused to be specific, but noted that the ring has 124 diamonds.

Kraft handed out Super Bowl rings to players and coaches at his home two weeks ago.

Bob–let him keep it. It’ll be better for your health that way.

Update:The story quoted above was its first draft. If you click on the Yahoo link above (and what the heck, here, too), here’s how it now reads:

Russian President Vladimir Putin walked off with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s diamond-encrusted 2005 Super Bowl ring during a recent meeting with U.S. business executives.

But not to worry: Kraft says the ring was a gift to Putin, presented out of “respect and admiration.”

Earlier, Russian media had speculated that Kraft hadn’t meant to give away the ring.

“I showed the president my most recent Super Bowl ring,” Kraft said in a statement released Wednesday. The Russian president “was clearly taken with its uniqueness,” Kraft said.

“At that point, 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,” Kraft said.

Putin met with the businessmen Saturday at Konstantinovsky Palace near St. Petersburg, Russia. Near the end of the meeting, Kraft took off the ring, and handed it to Putin. Putin tried it on, put it in his pocket and left, according to Russian news reports.

According to Patriots spokesman Stacey James, the ring — which is encrusted with 124 diamonds — has a value of “substantially more” than the previously reported $15,000.

A senior Kremlin official, Dmitry Peskov, told The Associated Press that Putin had given the ring to the Kremlin library where other foreign gifts are kept.

How to account for the update? AP should’ve held off before running with a poorly sourced story.

Or maybe Kraft has taken my advice! (I had my girlfriend–Morgan Fairchild!–email him. Yeah, that’s the ticket…)