A 350-year-old painting bizarrely thought by some to show an ancient iPhone is being touted by conspiracy theorists as “proof” of time-travel.
The online rumours started after Apple boss Tim Cook claimed he had noticed a device in a piece of artwork during a visit to a museum in Amsterdam in 2016.
In the artwork, by Dutch painter Pieter de Hooch, a man can be seen clutching a rectangular object while a woman, child and dog all take a look at it.
A day later, Cook hosted a press conference with former European Commissioner Neelie Kroes where the pair discussed the famous painting.
“Do you happen to know Tim, where and when the iPhone was invented?” Kroes asked Cook on stage.
“You know, I thought I knew until last night.” Cook replied.
“Last night Neelie took me over to look at some Rembrandt and in one of the paintings I was so shocked. There was an iPhone in one of the paintings.”
Kroes showed a picture of the painting of the artwork to the audience which at first appeared blurry.
“It’s tough to see but I swear it’s there,” Cook said.
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He added that the letter the woman was holding resembled the Apple device – which was first released in 2007.
“I always thought I knew when the iPhone was invented, but now I’m not so sure anymore.”
The comments resurfaced this month after arts fans were left baffled by a woman ‘holding an iPhone’ in a 150-year-old painting.
The pretty painting shows a young woman walking through the idyllic countryside, clutching something that looks suspiciously like a smartphone.
Her gaze is glued to the object in her hands, while a lovestruck lad can be seen waiting to hand her a pink flower.
But art critics quickly rubbished the suggestion, pointing out that the woman was reading a prayer book – rather than browsing social media.
The man who first sparked the conspiracy, Peter Russell, told VICE the discussion shows how much society has changed over the years.
He explained: “What strikes me most is how much a change in technology has changed the interpretation of the painting, and in a way has leveraged its entire context.
“The big change is that in 1850 or 1860, every single viewer would have identified the item that the girl is absorbed in as a hymnal or prayer book.
“Today, no one could fail to see the resemblance to the scene of a teenage girl absorbed in social media on their smartphone.”