Time Travelers or Doppelgängers? 29+ Celebs Who Resemble Figures in Historical Art


| LAST UPDATE 08/10/2023

By Evelyn Martinez

Many celebrities bear such an uncanny resemblance to figures in historical paintings, it's almost hard to believe they're not from a different era. These artworks made us do a double take - here's a look.

Stallone in the Vatican

As the great Rocky Balboa said, “It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” We’re more concerned about Sylvester Stallone’s ability to move back in time.

Rocky Balboa Sylvester StalloneRocky Balboa Sylvester Stallone
Raphael PD via Wikimedia Commons / Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers via YouTube

On the far left side of Renaissance artist Raphael’s 1511 masterpiece Gregory IX Approving the Decretals, there appears to be a familiar-looking face; even the indent on his cheek looks like a Stallone bruise. While the painting covers a significant moment in Vatican history, we can’t focus on anything but the legendary boxer.

Time Traveling Ginger

Thanks to his role as Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter film series, Rupert Grint is one of the most famous faces on the planet. If you ever find yourself in Scotland and wish to walk through the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, it is hard to miss Rupert’s likeness to a specific painting.

Ron Weasley Rupert GrintRon Weasley Rupert Grint
David Wilkie, PD, via Wikimedia Commons / The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon via YouTube

Painted in the early 19th Century, this self-portrait by Sir David Wilkies looks uncannily like Ron Weasley - but with a little extra anger behind his eyes. The Scottish artist may have been a principal painter for Queen Victoria, but did he save the world from He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named? Didn’t think so!

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Jester for Another Court

Peter Dinklage is famous for his portrayal of Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones, and his depiction of the fictional character may have been based on some real-life experiences. Not only does he look identical to the subject of the painting, but he also has the same searing gaze as Tyrion. 

Tyrion Lannister Peter DinklageTyrion Lannister Peter Dinklage
Diego Velázquez PD via Wikimedia Commons / CBS Sunday Mornings via YouTube

Spanish artist Diego Velázquez’s depiction of the court jester Sebastian de Morro is an exciting insight into short people's respect in the mid-1600s. While Sebastian worked for a cruel Habsburg court that mocked him, the artist gives us a complex portrait. We feel Peter wouldn’t be so upset about the comparison here.

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Queen Natalie’s Misplacement in Time 

Tyrion is not the only potential time traveler from Game of Thrones on our list. Natalie Dormer is a likely candidate for a time wanderer. With her appearances in multiple period TV shows, namely Anne Boleyn in The Tudors and Lady Worsley in The Scandalous Lady W, she had to get some inspiration from somewhere.

Natalie Dormer Margaery TyrellNatalie Dormer Margaery Tyrell
Johann Georg Ziesenis PD via Wikimedia Commons / Showtime/Kobal via Shutterstock

Danish artist Johann Georg Ziesenis painted the portrait in 1761 of the young German Princess Charlotte to celebrate her engagement to King George III of Britain. Her outfit, jewelry, and gaze are the epitome of 1700s luxury. You can see Natalie in the Library at Kew Palace. We mean Queen Charlotte.

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The Unmistakable Shade of Red

Painted in 1908, Italian-born artist John William Waterhouse’s oil painting is a beautiful portrayal of femininity, and what better example is there than Oscar-winner Jessica Chastain? It is hard to mistake that shade of red hair for anyone but Jessica, and she may be the subject, given her hair is naturally red. 

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John William Waterhouse PD via Picryl / @jessicachastain via Instagram

The painting encourages the viewer to smell the roses and enjoy the beauty of living. While it’s in a private collection away from public display, you can purchase the painting for yourself, and it will only cost you $4 million… It might be more cost-effective to look at this masterpiece online.

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The Doge of Cinema

Michael Douglas is enormously famous for his 60 years of appearances in film and TV. For his diehard fans, you’re not likely to spot the actor just walking around New York City, where he lives. However, if you have spare bucks, you can get the next best thing in the National Gallery in London.

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Giovanni Bellini PD via Wikipedia Commons / The Jonathan Ross Show via YouTube

The 1501 portrait by Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini of the Doge Leonardo Loredan looks uncannily like Michael Douglas. Painted at the turning point of the Renaissance, this work of art combines the new styles of the period with the old customs of leadership as a Doge was the name of a ruler of Venice.

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Portrait of an Australian Actress

The subject of Leonardo Da Vinci’s underappreciated artwork La Belle Ferronnière has been unidentified for hundreds of years. In English, the painting is called Portrait of an Unknown Woman. However, we want to put the case forward that it could be a time-traveling Mia Wasikowska. 

Mia Wasikowska Alice JaneMia Wasikowska Alice Jane
Leonardo da Vinci PD via Wikimedia Commons / BBC Films/Kobal via Shutterstock

The actress is known for her timeless look, so it’s worth including her in the investigation, right? Da Vinci’s masterpiece may have been painted eight years before the Mona Lisa, but the handiwork is no less brilliant. With only 12 paintings linked to the Florentine genius, we think Mia would want to be a part of the mystery.

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Sign of the Times 

Egon Schiele painted the 1912 piece Self-Portrait with Chinese Lantern Plant and depicted himself shyly facing his head away from the observer but with piercing eyes peeking at anyone looking. Completed in a then-conservative Austria, it seems eerily like Harry Styles and even carries his same body language.  

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Egon Schiele PD via Wikimedia Commons / Harry Styles via YouTube

The artist passed away from the Spanish Flu in his prime. Or did he? Is it impossible that the young Egon decided he’d had enough of painting, faked his death, and traveled to the UK in 2010 to audition for the X Factor talent competition? Unlikely, but we’re still hedging our bets that this similar-looking duo is related.

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Keanu Reeves is Immortal

Keanu Reeves may be famous for his long career in the movies, notably the Matrix and John Wick series. However, we are not the first to accuse the star of being a secret time traveler. The theory appeared online in a 2009 video titled 'Keanu Reeves is immortal' and has been a topic of intense debate ever since.

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Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel PD via Wikimedia Commons / Image Press Agency/Nurphoto via Shutterstock

The mystery behind the 1875 Portrait of Paul Mounet is fueled by the absence of the subject's body after he died. The painting is on display in the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. With Keanu living in LA just a few hours' drive away, he may want to keep the precious artwork close so he can visit whenever he wants to. 

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Forever in Florence

We're not sure if Keanu has timeless facial features or if he really does have the ability to live forever, but this second painting further proves our point that Mr. Reeves is blessed with more than a pretty face. It also does help fans' case that Keanu has not aged since he first appeared in movies in the 80s.

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Parmigianino PD via Wikimedia Commons / JSS Images/Bei via Shutterstock

Another reason fans of the 'Keanu is eternal' theory are so passionate is because the portrait's subject has never been identified. For those wishing to see the artwork to decide for themselves, the 1530 painting Portrait of a Man by the legendary Renaissance artist Parmigianino is held in the Uffizi Museum in Florence.

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Depiction of Saoirse in Spring 

Early Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli is praised for creating Primavera (The Spring) in the late 1400s. Historians have spent years debating the date of the painting’s creation and not nearly enough time deciding who Flora is modeled after. One figure in particular bears some resemblance to a face we know well.

Saoirse Ronan Lady BirdSaoirse Ronan Lady Bird
Sandro Botticelli PD via Wikimedia Commons / Clint Spaulding via Shutterstock

Irish actress Saoirse Ronan is known for her ethereal beauty and ageless elegance, features Renaissance painters admired above all things. Saoirse could have been a model for such a famous painting, or maybe her great-great-great-great grandmother is the beauty behind this timeless painting.

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Norton with a Turban 

Hyacinthe Rigaud, a painter from 1600s France, was famed for painting one of King Louis 14th's most celebrated portraits. However, his work with French royalty is outside the internet's interest. Instead, it is his striking resemblance to actor Edward Norton, who was born more than two centuries after the artist’s death.

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Hyacinthe Rigaud PD via Wikimedia Commons / Movieclips via YouTube

It is uncanny how much Hyacinthe resembles Edward, and it begs the question of whether there is some kind of connection between the two men. Or if they even are two men at all…The painting is now held at the Louvre Museum in Paris, Hyacinthe’s Self Portrait with a Turban leaves us with many question marks.

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Maggie in Blue

Lady in Blue is one of Paul Cézanne's most famous works, as the subject's identity is still unknown to historians. She may have been Marie-Louise, a professional model, or Madame Brémond, the painter's governess. The painting now resides at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, and we have other ideas about the subject.

Maggie Smith Downton AbbeyMaggie Smith Downton Abbey
Paul Cézanne PD via Wikimedia Commons / Downton Abbey (2010) Carnival Films via IMDb

Irrespective of the subject's name, there is a striking resemblance between her and British actor Maggie Smith, born in 1934, 28 years after Cézanne's death. Perhaps the Downton Abbey costuming is an unfair visual example, but it's hard not to see the likeness between Maggie and the artists' famed piece.

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Cardinal Stanley of Spain

There are arguably two Stanley Tucci’s that reside in New York City. There is, of course, the actor Stanley Tucci that starred in films The Devil Wears Prada and Easy A. However, there is also an artwork at the Metropolitan Museum with a portrait of a man that can only be likened to Stanley himself.

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El Greco PD via Wikimedia Commons / Late Night with Seth Meyers via YouTube

The painting in question is the Portrait of Fernando Niño de Guevara, completed by the famous Greek painter El Greco in 1600. It’s probably safe to say that the subject, Cardinal Fernando, was prominent enough in Spanish history that we can eliminate Stanley as a time traveler, but the similarity is astonishingly close.

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Amy Gothic

Grant Wood’s famous American Gothic artwork has had a resurgence in interest for more reasons than one. Living in the Art Institute of Chicago as it has since 1930, the painting has become the pinnacle of early 20th Century Southern living as a stark contrast to the European-influenced East and West Coast in the US.

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Grant Wood PD via Wikimedia Commons / @amyschumer via Instagram

When a fan of Amy took to Twitter to share her opinion that the comedian may be a descendant of Nan Wood, Grant’s sister and the actual subject of the painting, in response, Amy got together with fellow actor and Oscar-winner JK Simmons to recreate the photo. Paired with a fork, Amy showed us that anything is possible.

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Bobby de Niro of Possible Polish Beginnings

Sometimes great artists have to take up side jobs to keep up their hustle, and this is just as apparent in 16th Century German art history. While famed artist Bartholomeus was creating portraits for kings of Austria and Scandinavia, he kept food on the table by painting Polish landowner Johann Vogt.

Robert de Niro Lookalike paintingRobert de Niro Lookalike painting
Bartlomiej Strobel PD via Wikimedia Commons / Snap via Shutterstock

For a relatively bland painting, it has caused quite a stir. The striking similarity between Vogt, who lived in the 17th century, and actor Robert de Niro has had people talking about it for years. Historians believe Vogt had Italian roots, and de Niro was invited to the National Museum in Wrocław to see the portrait.

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Portrait of Adam

Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani is famous for his elongated and almost creepy faces. The subject of Amedeo’s 1917 painting Portrait of Soutine is Chaim Soutine, a Belarusian-French painter with a close friendship with the creator of his portrait. But that’s not the only thing that makes this portrait interesting.

Adam Driver Kylo RenAdam Driver Kylo Ren
National Gallery of Art CC0 via Wikimedia Commons / W Magazine via YouTube

The similarity of Chaim to American Star Wars actor Adam Driver is obvious. Chaim and Adam both came to success from unlikely beginnings. While Chaim started in poverty and was sent to art school, Adam was a part of the US Army before becoming one of Hollywood’s most bankable actors.

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Jack Goes Back to Colonial America

American artist John Singleton Copley's 1768 portrait of Paul Revere pre-dated the midnight ride Revere did to warn the Americans of approaching British troops during the War of Independence in 1775. The artist's decision to paint a portrait for the soon-to-be hero is unlike any other Average Joe painting. 

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John Singleton Copley PD via Wikimedia Commons / Netflix via YouTube

Paule Revere looks strangely similar to School of Rock actor Jack Black. Perhaps it's the intense gaze or his hairline. Funnily enough, Revere and the comedic actor were born less than 5000 kilometers from each other. Admittedly, Jack was born 234 years later, but that means they could still be related! 

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The Kings of Spain and Facebook

There are a few comparisons that can be made between Philip IV of Spain and the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. To name the differences, Philip came to money and had no idea how to spend it. On the other hand, Mark works for his money and knows precisely how to spend it.

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Diego Velázquez PD via Wikimedia Commons / Shawn Thew/EPA/EFE via Shutterstock

Now that we think about it, the only thing these two opposites seemed to have in common is how similar they look in Diego Velázquez’s Portrait of Philip IV from 1623. For any Habsburg enthusiasts, or more likely Zuckheads, it is on display at the Met Museum in New York City.

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Iggy's Example of a Lady

Iggy Azalea and classical 15th Century portraiture art are two things you rarely read in the same sentence. However, while these two subjects could not be further opposites even if they tried, Iggy bears a strange resemblance to Belgian artist Rogier Van der Weyden’s 1460 Portrait of a Lady. 

Iggy Azalea celebrity lookalikeIggy Azalea celebrity lookalike
Rogier van der Weyden CC0 via Wikimedia Commons / James Charles via Youtube

With downward-cast eyes and white hair, Iggy’s soft pale features are like the mysterious woman in the painting. The woman’s identity has never been revealed, and historians generally assume that the lady was used as no more than a subject for Van de Weyden to continue to perfect his craft.

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Dutch Master and King of Pop

The cousin of legendary painter Rembrandt and Dutch artist, Barent Fabricius, was not one to shy away from self-portraiture. In his 1650 self-portrait titled Self-Portrait with a Big Hat, Fabricius bears a striking resemblance to the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson.

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Barent Fabritius PD via Wikimedia Commons / Eugene Adebari via Shutterstock

It is uncanny how much Fabricius resembles the Gloved One in this self-portrait. Wearing a hat that demonstrated his wealth and high social standing, Fabricius, like MJ, was always open to stylishly showing his swag. On display in the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, real Michael fans can see for themselves.

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Dakota in the Haus of Holbein

As the musical Six said, “Hans Holbein went around the world, painting all of the beautiful girls.” The 16th Century portrait artist is famous for painting some of the most recognizable portraits from the Tudor era. He even did that Henry VIII painting that we all know. But it is one of his lesser-known pieces that intrigues us.

Dakota Fanning Painting lookalikeDakota Fanning Painting lookalike
Hans Holbein the Younger PD via Wikimedia Commons / W Magazine via YouTube

The artwork in question is his sketch of the Portrait of Mary Zouch, a subtle but mysterious piece with a strangely familiar face. Mary Zouch looks uncannily like Dakota Fanning, the American actress from Twilight and The Cat in the Hat. Even the shyness of her expression mirrors some of Dakota’s manners. Does life imitate art?

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Fionn in a Turban

Zygmunt Waliszewski, a Polish painter captivated by the old masters, painted Self Portrait in a Turban in Paris in 1922. At the time, Zygmunt was working at the Louvre and emanating the works of his heroes, Cezanne and Matisse. We don’t know why he painted the portrait or wore a turban, but his face feels familiar. 

Fionn Whitehead Dunkirk paintingFionn Whitehead Dunkirk painting
Zygmunt Waliszewski PD via Wikimedia Commons / The Upcoming via YouTube

Fionn Whitehead may be new to the acting game, but he’s certainly no stranger to us. The British actor had a breakout role in Dunkirk, the WWII film by Christopher Nolan, and he has been steadily rising ever since. Either Fionn and Zygmunt are the same person, or the actor has one of those timeless British faces.

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Jim Halpert Time Portal

John Krasinski is a face we know well, particularly from his stint as Jim Halpert in hit series The Office. But before John was even John, Danish businessman Carl Feilberg wore arguably the same face. There is something about Carl’s gaze that just screams, ‘Am I out of my mind?’

John Krasinski Jim HalpertJohn Krasinski Jim Halpert
Christen Købke PD via Wikimedia Commons / TIME via YouTube

Hailing from Denmark, Christen Købke was one of the most famous painters during the Golden Age. His Portrait of Carl Feilberg is how we know the doppelgängers were so similar looking. In 1835, when the painting was commissioned, Carl was 25 years old. 170 years later, John was 25 years old when he first appeared on The Office. Weird.

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The Desperate Johnny

For a few reasons, French painter Gustave Courbet’s 1845 piece The Desperate Man is a fascinating painting. The hyper-realism artist was fascinated by only what he could see, not what he could conjure in his mind. His distressed subject, likely himself, tells us how Courbet was feeling. But that’s not all.

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Gustave Courbet PD via Wikimedia Commons / Rocco Spaziani/UPI via Shutterstock

Courbet appears to look a lot like Johnny Depp, or mauve Johnny Depp seems to look a lot like Courbet. It helps that the painting’s dynamic pose could be straight out of a shot of the Pirates of the Caribbean. Courbet was often referred to as a “savage” in 19th-century slang, and Johnny is often called a bit of a badass. 

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An Uncanny Polish Sketch

Nicole Kidman is so famous that most people forget how she even got her start. The actress is recognizable for her performances in Moulin Rouge and Big Little Lies, but one striking portrait of a woman suggests that Nicole may have been around a lot longer than we thought. 

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Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz PD via Wikimedia Commons / Movieclips via YouTube

The subject of a painting by Polish artist Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (also known as Witkacy) is a poet and prose writer, Elżbieta Szemplińska. The woman bears a striking resemblance to Nicole. Elżbieta died at 57 in 1991, the same year Kidman starred in Billy Bathgate and earned herself a Golden Globe nom.

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Two Men and a Half Smile

Okay, we might be cheating a bit on this one. Not an artwork but a photograph instead. We couldn’t shake how similar these two faces are. Charlie Sheen, our favorite roommate from Two and a Half Men, has a unique look, so the resemblance to this painter is turning heads.

Charlie Sheen John BrownCharlie Sheen John Brown
John Brown PD via Wikimedia Commons / Ken McKay/ITV via Shutterstock

American abolitionist and hero John Brown may have met an untimely end, but his name and face are imprinted in history positively. John and Charlie share many unique likenesses, particularly their soft eyes and side smile. It is strange to combine them simultaneously, but these two could be related.

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Chuck Norris with a Straw Hat

When Vincent Van Gogh spent a few years honing his painting skills in Paris in the 1880s, Vincent became his own most common subject for portraits. He said, "I purposely bought a good enough mirror for want of a model." His 1887 Self-Portrait with a Hat shows that there was one other model Vincent could have used. 

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Vincent van Gogh CC0 via Wikimedia Commons / @chucknorris via Instagram

Martial artist and actor Chuck Norris could have been a good stand-in for a mirror because Chuck and Vincent are twins. The red hair, face shape, and eyes are spot on. And when he completed the painting, Vincent still had his left ear. Chuck can always follow the tortured artist's rhythm if he wants to keep looking similar.

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Fathers of Liberalism and Quirk

Godfrey Kneller’s 1697 portrait of philosopher John Locke and his writings inspired generations of revolutionaries in France, America, and Scotland. For a man that believed in sensory learning, as opposed to inherited knowledge, he was a brilliant human being. But his mind isn’t the only thing we want to address.

Christopher Walken celebrity lookalikeChristopher Walken celebrity lookalike
Godfrey Kneller PD via Wikimedia Commons / Ancestry via Youtube

If Locke is the ‘father of liberalism,’ then Christopher Walken is the ‘king of quirk.’ The unlikely duo wouldn't have crossed circles today, but it’s possible they’re related. The actor may be known for his strange intonations and comedic roles, but we can’t see past the similarities in Locke and Walken’s features.

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Handsome Stars and Presidents

History looks back on President Franklin Pierce’s term bitterly; his lack of support for emancipation didn’t prevent the Civil War from breaking out. While his views were less than stellar, his 1853 portrait by George Peter Alexander Healy is pretty fantastic. However, his likeness to pop star Nick Jonas has our attention.

Nick Jonas Twin BrotherNick Jonas Twin Brother
George Peter Alexander Healy PD via Wikimedia Commons / Dan Wooller via Shutterstock

Something about their smiles makes us wonder if they are related, and Pierce was known for being very handsome. Even with the apparent age difference, the 14th President was 49 years old when he sat for the painting, and the singer is only 30. We’re betting that Nick will look a lot like Franklin in the next decade or so.

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