The conspiracy theory blogosphere has come alive with news that Apple CEO Tim Cook has acknowledged proof of time travel in a 1670 painting that appears to show a man holding an iPhone, a product of modern technology first introduced to the consumer market in 2007.
During an onstage chat at Amsterdam's Start-Up Fest Europe on Tuesday, Cooke and former Dutch politician and European Commissioner Neelie Kroes shared an anecdote about an incident that happened the day before.
The two were visiting Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum when Kroes pointed to a 1670 painting titled "Man hands a letter to a woman in a hall" by Pieter de Hooch and asked Cook when he thought the iPhone was first invented.
"Do you happen to know Tim, where and when the iPhone was invented?" she asked.
Cook took a look at the painting and gasped in disbelief when he saw that the man in the painting was holding what looked like an iPhone.
"It's tough to see but I swear it's there!" Cooke exclaimed.
"You know, I thought I knew until last night," Cook said on stage. "Last night Neelie took me over to look at some Rembrandts, and in one of the paintings -- I was so shocked; there was an iPhone in one of the paintings."
Although Cook attributed the oil-on-canvass painting to Rembrandt, it was, in fact, a 1670 painting by Pieter de Hooch.
Many have remarked about the strangeness of the painting and the enigmatic title, "Man Handing a Letter to a Woman in the Entrance Hall of a House," wondering what the artist had in mind that inspired the painting.
Some have suggested that Pieter de Hooch may have been inspired by an undisclosed incident in his life that left a lasting impression. But art historians have pointed out that paintings with enigmatic themes and titles were not unusual in the 1600s.
While it is safe to assume that Cook's comments were made tongue-in-cheek, conspiracy theorists have seized upon Cook's comments to declare the painting proof of time travel.
Some have suggested that the man in the painting was sharing with the woman an email message he received on his phone, hence the title, "Man Handing a Letter to a Woman in the Entrance Hall of a House."
But given the fact that none other than the Apple CEO appears to be floating a time travel conspiracy theory, a few technology bloggers have actually taken the trouble to try to explain it away.
Was Pieter de Hooch's painting inspired by a 21st-century time-traveler who showed him an iPhone?
Rushing to defend an unexpected ally, some conspiracy theorists argued that depictions of letters in similar paintings from the same period are remarkably different. This, according to conspiracy theorists, suggests that the "letter" in de Hooch's painting was not an ordinary letter but probably a letter via an electronic medium.
According to conspiracy theorists, the unusual appearance of the "letter" in the painting gives reason to explore the possibility that a time traveler may have shown the 17th-century artist an iPhone first available to the market in 2007.
But some debated whether to believe that the time traveler came from the past to the present and returned to the past with an iPhone souvenir or whether a time traveler from the present traveled to the past with an iPhone.
Maybe Peter de Hooch himself was the time traveler who created the painting to commemorate his time-travel experience.
Some conspiracy theorists have even wondered whether Cook's statements are a veiled admission that Apple has been conducting secret time-travel research.
Conspiracy theorists are pleased that none other than the Apple CEO has admitted the presence of an out-of-place artifact in an old painting. Conspiracy theorists would consider Cook a valuable ally in the campaign to promote their time travel conspiracy theories to a skeptical audience.
"If Tim Cook, the head of Apple, believes that time travel is possible and that this technology could have been given to Steve Jobs, then maybe it is true," writes arch-conspiracy theorist and UFO chaser Scott C. Waring.
"Maybe they [time travelers] are not aliens traveling through time, but us, humanity, coming back to make things right," he concludes.
"It's encouraging that CEOs are now beginning to see what ordinary people have been seeing for years," CNET's Chris Matyszczyk -- certainly not a conspiracy theorist -- comments. "We see UFOs in the sky. We see ghosts in old houses and, indeed, in the machine. Nothing is as it seems. We are all living in some alien's virtual-reality game."
And had Cook had taken a closer look at the painting he would have noticed more anomalies.
And as Gizmodo's Sophie Kleeman -- also not a conspiracy theorist -- notes, Cook apparently missed the little girl in the photo holding a selfie stick, the woman's bluetooth headset, a stormtrooper standing at the window, and, of course, those enigmatic Illuminati symbols on the window.
Conspiracy theorists have claimed for years that evidence of time travel exists in archaeological findings, old paintings, old films, and footage.
The Inquisitr reported recently that out-of-place artifact conspiracy theorists claimed to have spotted a 21st-century camera phone carried by a spectator at a August 19, 1995, fight between Mike Tyson and Peter McNeely (see video below) at Las Vegas.The boxing fan appeared to be holding up an object in a manner suggestive of someone trying to use a smartphone to snap a picture or film the fight.
Camera phones were not available to the consumer market until 2000.The 1948 film Fort Apache, staring John Wayne (see YouTube above), also shows Henry Fonda using an iPhone, according to conspiracy theorists.
[Image via Rijksmuseum/Public Domain]