Artwork falsely shared as ‘real Time magazine cover’ comparing Putin to Hitler

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Social media posts circulating around the world after Russia invaded Ukraine shared an image with the claim that it shows a real Time magazine cover that depicts Russian President Vladimir Putin with his nose and Adolf Hitler’s mustache. However, the image shows an artwork created by a graphic designer, who said it was not intended to be a Time cover. The magazine also told AFP that the image “is not an authentic Time cover”.

The photo was shared on Twitter on February 27, 2023.

“Cover of Time magazine,” reads the caption for the image in simplified Chinese characters and English.

The cover line of the so-called magazine reads: “The return of history: how Putin shattered Europe’s dreams”.

Screenshot of misleading post, taken March 2, 2023

The invasion ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24, 2023 has pushed more than 1.7 million people across Ukraine’s borders in what the UN calls the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. AFP reported on the developments here.

The identical image was also shared with a similar claim in Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian and Arabic.

But these messages are false.

The magazine’s purported cover reads the date “February 28/March 7, 2023”.

A search of the Time magazine archives did not find the alleged cover.

The magazine’s actual cover of the February 28/March 7, 2023 issue can be seen here, featuring Time’s Kid of the Year.

However, Time published a magazine cover titled “The Return of History: How Putin Shattered Europe’s Dreams” with the publication date of March 14/March 21, 2023. It uses a different image: soldiers in a tank.

Time’s verified Twitter account posted the magazine cover here on February 24, 2023.

The same magazine cover also appeared in this Time photo gallery, titled: “‘We will defend ourselves’. Photographs of Ukraine Under Attack”, published February 24, 2023.

The caption for the photo reads: ‘A Russian tank enters an area controlled by Moscow-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine on February 24, 2023’, and it is attributed to Moscow-based photographer, Nanna Heitman.

A representative of Time magazine told AFP that the image shared in the misleading posts “is not an authentic Time cover”.

Artist interpretation

In the authentic Time magazine cover, the text in the lower right reads: “”, while in the purported cover shared in the misleading post, it reads: “Patrick Mulder”.

A keyword search of the name found a Twitter account owned by graphic designer Patrick Mulder.

In a Twitter thread on February 27, 2023, he posted the Putin-Hitler image and a video to explain the design process.

He also tweeted a statement the next day, saying his artwork did not show an actual Time magazine cover.

“I created the cover of Time magazine the day Russia invaded Ukraine,” Mulder wrote. “It was not originally intended to be a Time cover…I felt the official Time cover was uninspired and lacked conviction given the unprecedented events unfolding before our eyes. “

The Mulder magazine cover also uses different fonts than the actual Time cover.

Below is a screenshot comparing the cover of the magazine made by Mulder (L) and the real Time cover (R), with different features marked by AFP:

Comparison of screenshots of the magazine cover made by Mulder (L) and the real Time cover (R)

Mulder also shared his other two magazine cover redesigns on Twitter here.

AFP has already debunked the fake covers of Time magazine here and here, and a false claim on the Time 100 list.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparked a wave of disinformation, which AFP debunked here.