When Lelands.com listed Jim Brown's 1964 NFL title ring for auction, the site probably didn't expect to hear Brown claim that the piece of jewelry had been stolen nearly 50 years ago.
“It was stolen from me many years ago, in the late 1960s," Brown said Monday. “I'm surprised to hear that it's publicly for sale because whoever got it should know that I didn't give it up."
Now, Lelands has responded, saying the ring actually wasn't stolen -- that, in fact, it had been legally obtained from one of Brown's family members -- and that Brown authenticated the ring the first time it was sold in 1998.
“We never sell anything that has been stolen or not authenticated," Lelands.com chairman Josh Evans told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “It's unfortunate that (Brown) has gone in this direction, but it came from a family member who turned around and sold it ...
“We advertised selling the ring at a show in the Midwest [in 1998]. I think it was in Cleveland. And Jim was going to be at the show signing autographs. He called and we talked and he said he would be there. He was very polite. At the show, he came over to the booth and asked to see the ring. I showed it to him. He looked at it and he studied it and he knew it was his. And that was it. He never said anything."
Now, though, Brown says he wants the ring back and that he's considering legal action. Lelands.com, meanwhile, says it'll continue to auction the ring, which was sold back to the house by the person who bought it 16 years ago.
As of 8:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the ring had accumulated six bids with a high of $40,262.75.
“I haven't seen the ring since it was stolen from my home," Brown told the Pioneer Press on Tuesday. “I never authenticated anything or saw anything. Why would I authenticate a ring that was stolen from me? I don't know [Evans] and what he's talking about.
“At no time in my life have I seen the ring after it was stolen. If a family member had it, then a family member stole it ... My friends are calling me and thinking that I sold the ring or something. Why would I sell my championship ring?"