Fact Check

Were World Leaders Photographed with 'Satanic' Artwork at 2022 NATO Summit?

Photographs supposedly showed politicians such as Boris Johnson and Justin Trudeau standing next to artwork depicting skulls and dead babies.

Published Jul 13, 2022

MADRID, SPAIN - JUNE 29: Family photo of the heads of state and heads of government participating in the NATO summit, before the informal transatlantic dinner at the level of heads of state and government at the Prado Museum, on 29 June, 2022 in Madrid, Spain.  This dinner, whose menu has been designed by chef Jose Andres, is one of the meetings taking place on the occasion of the Nato Summit in Madrid, which officially began today and ends tomorrow at the IFEMA MADRID Exhibition Center. The celebration coincides with the 40th anniversary of Spain's accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, the tensions between Moscow and the Alliance and the accession of Finland and Sweden mark the agenda of an event in which delegations from 40 countries are participating. (Photo By A. Ortega. Pool/Europa Press via Getty Images) (A. Ortega. Pool/Europa Press via Getty Images)
Image Via A. Ortega. Pool/Europa Press via Getty Images
Photographs accurately depicted world leaders at the 2022 NATO Summit visiting an exhibit with "satanic" artwork that featured gas masks and dead babies.  

Fact Check

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 Getty Images. 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.

Person, Human, Suit

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)
Art Gallery, Art, Painting

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."

Flooring, Person, Human

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.

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.

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