PALM BEACH — Rumors have swirled (and continue to swirl) about New England Patriots owner and Palm Beach mainstay Robert Kraft after his girlfriend of five years dropped off the radar and reappeared with a new baby.
Kraft, 76, connected with young model Ricki Noel Lander shortly after the 2011 death of his wife, Myra Kraft. When Lander first made her public persona scarce, it was originally believed that she and Kraft may have separated, though it now appears that she was simply keeping a low profile during her pregnancy.
Kraft has confirmed that he is not the child’s biological father.
“Last fall, Ricki Noel Lander became the proud mother of a beautiful, healthy baby,” the billionaire revealed via a spokesman. “While Robert Kraft is not the biological father, he is thrilled with Ricki’s blessing of having a healthy child. With respect to her family’s privacy, we will not be commenting any further.”
Kraft was more forthcoming in the statement than he is with his social circle, according to sources who say that Kraft will not discuss whether he is the baby’s father. The sources indicate, though, that Kraft is “taking full care of Ricki and the baby” and is investing funds on their behalf.
At 38, Lander is nearly 40 years younger than her wealthy beau, and a full 16 years younger than his eldest son. (Kraft has four adult sons of his own.) It’s unknown how the sons feel about the addition of the new child into the family, though a source stated that they expect that the Kraft family trust (upon which they at least partially subsist) could well get modified to include provisions for the baby.
Lander gave birth last year, and has since been seen out-and-about with Kraft at this year’s Super Bowl, as well at the Grammys and at L.A.’s NBA All-Star Game. Whatever may have transpired, the super-couple seem to be “on-again” full-force.
“There is a lot of tiptoeing around the subject at the Patriots offices,” a source said of the baby. “Everyone is afraid to openly talk about it.”
Lander reportedly wanted a child for some time; the true identity of the father remains a mystery.