In late June 2022, as world leaders mingled at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Madrid, Spain, photographs surfaced online showing them inside the Prado Museum and supposedly standing next to "satanic" artwork that featured skulls, gas masks and dead bodies.
While it was true that politicians such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the museum during the summit, these images were not authentic depictions of that visit. Rather, they were the work of digital editing.
Creators of the manipulated photos used the gory imagery to replace actual artwork at the Prado Museum in Madrid.
Several of the real photographs can be found on GettyImages. They show Trudeau standing in front of a series of portraits and "La Inmaculada Concepción" (or "The Immaculate Conception") by Peter Paul Rubens, and Macron viewing another Rubens' work titled "The Three Graces," for examples.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits the Prado Museum in Madrid, on June 29, 2022, as they attend an official dinner during a NATO summit. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / POOL / AFP) MADRID, SPAIN - JUNE 29: French President Emmanuel Macron arrives for a dinner with the leaders of the NATO member states on the sidelines of the NATO Summit at El Prado Museum on June 29, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Ballesteros - Pool/Getty Images)
The below-displayed group photograph, which was also digitally altered, showed world leaders flanking a painting titled, "Las Meninas."
A family photo of the heads of state and heads of government participating in the 2022 NATO summit in Madrid, Spain. (Photo By A. Ortega. Pool/Europa Press via Getty Images)
The photograph of Johnson alone viewing artwork, however, was originally taken by Juanjo Martin for EFE. That photograph can be found on the European Pressphoto Agency's website here. It was also published here and here. In it, he was viewing the oil painting "Emperor Charles V at Mühlber" by Titian.
Given that the photographs supposedly showing world leaders at the 2022 NATO summit next to artwork featuring skulls, dead babies, and gas masks were clearly edited, we rated this claim as “False.”
“2022 NATO Summit in Madrid.” European Pressphoto Agency B.V., https://webgate.epa.eu/id/57778600. Accessed 13 July 2022.
Batycka, Dorian. “Night at the Museum: NATO World Leaders Perused the Galleries of Madrid’s Prado Museum During the Organization’s Annual Summit.” Artnet News, 5 July 2022, https://news.artnet.com/art-world/nato-goes-to-the-prado-2141488. Accessed 13 July 2022.
“Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Visits the Prado Museum In…” Getty Images, https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/canadian-prime-minister-justin-trudeau-visits-the-prado-news-photo/1241611977. Accessed 13 July 2022.
“De abrazos efusivos a paseos en soledad: la parte más inédita de la cena de la OTAN en el Prado.” Cadena SER, 30 June 2022, https://cadenaser.com/nacional/2022/06/30/de-abrazos-efusivos-a-paseos-en-soledad-la-parte-mas-inedita-de-la-cena-de-la-otan-en-el-prado-cadena-ser/. Accessed 13 July 2022.
Emperor Charles V at Mühlberg - The Collection - Museo Nacional Del Prado. https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/emperor-charles-v-at-muhlberg/e7c91aaa-b849-478c-a857-0bb58a6b6729. Accessed 13 July 2022.
“Family Photo of the Heads of State and Heads of Government…” Getty Images, https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/family-photo-of-the-heads-of-state-and-heads-of-government-news-photo/1405900988. Accessed 13 July 2022.
“French President Emmanuel Macron Arrives for a Dinner with The…” Getty Images, https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/french-president-emmanuel-macron-arrives-for-a-dinner-with-news-photo/1405979410. Accessed 13 July 2022.
“Las curiosidades de la cena de la OTAN en el Museo del Prado, en fotos: menú madrileño de José Andrés, dos cenas separadas y una ‘performance’ sorpresa.” El País, 30 June 2022, https://elpais.com/gente/2022-06-30/menu-madrileno-de-jose-andres-dos-cenas-separadas-y-una-performance-sorpresa-los-detalles-de-la-cena-de-la-otan-en-el-museo-del-prado.html. Accessed 13 July 2022.
"Las Meninas - Colección." Museo Nacional Del Prado. https://www.museodelprado.es/coleccion/obra-de-arte/las-meninas/9fdc7800-9ade-48b0-ab8b-edee94ea877f. Accessed 13 July 2022.
"The Immaculate Conception - The Collection." Museo Nacional Del Prado. https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/the-immaculate-conception/abea9a48-3712-4068-a0dd-c669005430d5. Accessed 13 July 2022.
"The Three Graces - The Collection." Museo Nacional Del Prado. https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/the-three-graces/145eadd9-0b54-4b2d-affe-09af370b6932. Accessed 13 July 2022.