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    Despite rumors, Robert Kraft is not the father of his on-again, off-again girlfriend’s baby, spokesman says

    New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Ricki Noel Lander attend the 2018 Taco Bell Skills Challenge at Staples Center on Feb. 17 in Los Angeles.
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
    New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Ricki Noel Lander attend the 2018 Taco Bell Skills Challenge at Staples Center on Feb. 17 in Los Angeles.

    Robert Kraft’s girlfriend has had a baby, but the Patriots owner says he’s not the father.

    Following a published report that Ricki Noel Lander had a baby last year, and that Kraft may be the father, a spokesperson for the team issued a statement Thursday acknowledging that Lander did, in fact, give birth, but that the 76-year-old billionaire businessman is not the father.

    “Last fall, Ricki Noel Lander became the proud mother of a beautiful, healthy baby,” the statement, e-mailed to the Globe at 12:30 a.m. Thursday, reads. “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.”

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    The Patriots were prompted to issue the unusual statement after the New York Post, which is owned by Kraft’s close friend Rupert Murdoch, posted a story late Wednesday claiming that Lander had had a baby and there was speculation that Kraft, whom the 38-year-old actress/model has dated off and on since 2011, might be the father.

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    Kraft, whose wife, Myra, died in 2011, has four sons, Jonathan, Daniel, Joshua, and David, all of whom are older than Lander. According to the Post, Kraft is “taking full care of Ricki and the baby,” and has bought her a house in Los Angeles.

    Kraft and Lander began dating less than a year after Myra Kraft’s death, often sitting together at Celtics games. Lander, whose slender resume includes small parts in “Ugly Betty” and “True Blood,” moved to Los Angeles as a teenager to train with the Los Angeles Classical Ballet and also studied at Mike Nichols’s New Actors Workshop in New York, according to her page on IMDb.com.

    Early on in the couple’s relationship, a bizarre video surfaced of Kraft rehearsing a scene with Lander, who’s wearing an animal-print bikini. The video, which quickly went viral, was an audition of sorts for “The Internship,” a not-very-good movie that eventually starred Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn. In the video, Kraft read the lines of Wilson’s character.

    Kraft and Lander spent a lot of time together over the next few years, attending various awards shows, appearing arm-in-arm at Elton John’s Oscars party, and strolling the grounds of Allen & Company’s annual media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. But by late 2015, the courtship cooled, and there was speculation that the pair had taken a break to sort out what the future might hold. Normally active on social media, Lander went dark on Instagram between July 2016 and August 2017, no longer posting glamorous selfies or photos from the sidelines at Patriots games.

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    Kraft has since occasionally squired other young women to events, including to Celtics games this season. But Lander suddenly reappeared in the past month, joining Kraft at the recent Grammy Awards and at last weekend’s NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles, where she and the team owner were all smiles as they were photographed together talking to LeBron James and other players.

    The Post story cited an anonymous source who suggested Kraft’s four sons anticipate that the family trust could be changed to provide for the child. But the Kraft trust, which was modified in 2013 to give the sons more control, is set up as an irrevocable trust for the benefit of the four brothers and their children. And a trust expert we spoke to — George Cushing, at the law firm McLane Middleton — said beneficiaries can’t normally be added to irrevocable trusts, though it’s true some trusts do contain language that allow future children to be included. The wording of the Kraft trust makes it clear it’s written for the benefit of only children from “the marriage of Robert and Myra Kraft,” limiting its scope to the four brothers and their children. Cushing noted that it’s possible that a separate trust could be established for a new beneficiary.

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