Robert Kraft could win his fifth Super Bowl on Feb. 5, but he only has three Super Bowl rings to show for his previous four championships. Somewhat bizarrely, Russian president Vladimir Putin has possession of the fourth.
SI has detailed the strange tale of Putin's acquisition in the past, but with the Patriots in the Super Bowl again and Putin regularly in the headlines, it's a story worth revisiting.
On a business trip to Russia in 2005, Kraft and a friend visited Russia and met with Putin after winning Super Bowl XXXIX, where the Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 24–21 at EverBank Field. Kraft showed off the ring and handed it to Putin, who tried it on and then never gave it back. The ring features 124 diamonds.
"[The Super Bowl rings] are all in a drawer except for my third one,” Kraft recently recounted for NFL Media. “The original is in Russia with the president of the country. I happened to be there on a business mission with my friend Sandy Weill. We had just given out our rings. I showed Sandy my ring, and he said, 'Why don't you show it to the president?' And I showed it to him and he put it on, and he sort of just enjoyed it, so he kept it on."
The video leaves out some of the description from Kraft's account from the 2013 Carnegie Hall's Medal of Excellence gala, where the Patriots owner remembered being told by Putin that he could “kill someone with this ring.” After the trip to Russia, Kraft said he was nudged by President Bush's administration to tell people that it was a gift to Putin and Russia in “the best interest of US-Soviet relations.”
A few days later, Putin denied the meeting but said he planned to have a replacement made for Kraft. The replacement was described as “an expensive object, made from a nice metal, with a stone.”
In 2013, CNN reported that the ring was on display at the Kremlin's library, where many foreign gifts are kept.