By Don Reisinger
May 25, 2016

If you ask anyone, he or she would say the iPhone was invented in 2007 by Apple. That is, except for Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Speaking in an interview at Start-Up Fest in Amsterdam on Tuesday, Cook said that he was recently touring Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum looking for Rembrandt paintings. But he was struck by another piece of art, known as Man Hands a Letter to a Woman in a Hall by Pieter de Hooch, that caught his eye.

“You know, I thought I knew until last night,” Cook said, answering a question from former European Commissioner Neelis Kroes during the question-and-answer session on where and when the iPhone was invented. “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. It’s tough to see, but I swear it’s there.”

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CNBC earlier reported on Cook’s comments.

While the painting was in fact created by Pieter de Hooch, Cook’s joking comments weren’t so far off. Of course, the iPhone didn’t exist in 1670 when the painting was made. But a closer inspection reveals a woman holding what appears to be a touchscreen-based smartphone. Of course, an Apple (AAPL) CEO would see an iPhone in the painting, but one might be forgiven for believing it’s a handset from his company’s competitors, like Samsung and HTC. It’s even being held in the same way a person would hold a touch-based smartphone.

In reality, the woman is holding a letter, and the iPhone was unveiled in 2007 after several years of work went into its development. Since then, the iPhone has taken the world by storm and driven record revenues and profits for Apple. It’s also proven to be one of the few standards by which all other devices are judged.

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Cook’s comments were obviously a joke and are simply a reaction to his interpretation of a painting, but it’s not a far-fetched interpretation. Now it might be time to look for other paintings that showcase the iPad to see when that was actually invented.

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