During a chat at the Start-up Fest event in Amsterdam on Tuesday, Cook spoke to former European Commissioner Neelie Kroes about topics ranging from health to the future of TV.
But the pair shared an anecdote from the night before when Kroes took Cook to Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.
“Do you happen to know Tim, where and when the iPhone was invented?” Kroes asked Cook on stage.
The Apple chief executive explained that in one painting at the museum he thought he saw the subject holding an iPhone.
“You know, I thought I knew until last night. 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,” Cook jokingly explained.
Kroes showed a picture of the painting but it was a little blurry.
“It’s tough to see but I swear it’s there,” Cook said.
The painting Cook was referring to was not in fact by the Dutch painter Rembrandt. It was painted by Pieter de Hooch in 1670 and is entitled “Man Hands a Letter to a Woman in a Hall.” The letter in the picture sort of looks like an iPhone.
“I always thought I knew when the iPhone was invented, but now I’m not so sure anymore,” Cook said.
Just to be clear though, the first iPhone was released in 2007 when Steve Jobs was still in charge of Apple.