Who Wore It Best? Here Are 8 Celebrities Who Are the Spitting Image of Ancient Sculptures

Is that an ancient Egyptian statue or a bust of the King of Pop?

Ancient Egyptian statue. Photo: John Weinstein, Field Museum of Natural History - Photography Division © Field Museum of Natural History - CC BY-NC 4.0.

In 2018, back when artificial intelligence was seemingly the stuff of science fiction films rather than our quotidian reality, Google introduced the ArtSelfie as part of its Google Arts & Culture app. The feature encouraged people to upload their photo and find their artistic doppelgänger from the collections of hundreds of art institutions. Tens of millions did so, including many celebrities, who launched something of a trend by posting their side-by-sides to social media.

The conclusions of Google’s computer vision technology tended to settle on paintings and sketches, but in the hierarchy of genres, sculpture reigns supreme. Here, we present eight celebrities and their uncanny stone and marble lookalikes.


A Bust of Claudius and Daniel Craig

Left: Claudius bust (41–54 C.E.). Historical Museum, Oslo, Norway. Photo by PHAS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images. Right: Daniel Craig. Photo by Mike Coppola/FilmMagic.

Head to the Wikipedia page of Roman emperor Claudius and you’ll find Britain’s suavest hunk looking back at you. The bust is housed in Naples’s National Archaeological Museum and depicts a mild-mannered emperor crowned with a laurel garland. Claudius is considered one of Rome’s exemplary rulers, having improved the judicial system, increased women’s privileges, and expanded the empire to include North Africa and Britain. Surely Craig is a leading candidate for a Claudius biopic.


An Antoni Gaudi Statue and Richard Branson

Left: Detail of the Nativity Facade of Sagrada Familia. Photo by Dominic Jones/Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images. Right: Sir Richard Branson. Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images.

Antoni Gaudi carved well-known biblical episodes into the exterior of Barcelona’s Segrada Familia. One scene depicts the arrival of the three wise men in Bethlehem. Gaudi’s hooded Gaspar bears an uncanny resemblance to a scruffy-faced Branson. You sense the serial entrepreneur would appreciate the image of himself kneeling before the Virgin, less so the 140 years (and counting) taken to construct the building he’s occupying.


The Statue of Liberty and Owen Wilson

Left: The Statue of Liberty. Photo by Don Emmert / AFP via Getty Images. Right: Owen Wilson. Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage.

In Hollywood, Wilson has carved a niche as the affable, happy-go-lucky American—hardly the embodiment of serious national values like independence and freedom then. But squint and you can see Wilson’s face glazing out over New York Bay. The bold, ruler-straight nose of Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi’s 1875 copper covered statue does the trick.


Mount Rushmore George Washington and Glenn Close

Left: The carving of George Washington on Mount Rushmore. Photo by Sharpshooters/VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images. Right: Glenn Close. Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic.

Donald Trump infamously lobbied South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem to have his face chiseled into America’s most famous chunk of granite. Close need not pull any such shenanigans, she’s right there in the face of George Washington and his stoic expression. This perhaps says more about the artistry of Gutzon Borglum and the angle from which Rushmore is observed than as any true similarities between America’s first president and one of its greatest actors.


An Ancient Egyptian Sculpture and Michael Jackson

Left: Ancient Egyptian stone statue. Photo by John Weinstein, Field Museum of Natural History – Photography Division
© Field Museum of Natural History. Right: Michael Jackson. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

There was confusion and public mockery in 2011 when a statue of Jackson appeared on the banks of the River Thames. The discovery of this 3,000-year-old Egyptian sculpture in Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History caused a very different reaction. After his death in 2009, it became something of a pilgrimage point for locals. The similarity rests in the corners of the mouth and the vacant nose.


An Roman Acroterion and Elvis Presley 

Left: An ancient Roman carving. Photo courtesy of Bonhams. Right: Elvis Presley. Photo by John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images.

This 2nd-century C.E. Roman sculpture was the star lot when it appeared at a Bonhams auction in 2008. So much so, both the selling dealer and the auction house took to calling it “Elvis.” It’s not hard to see why. The work of marble was originally affixed to the corner of a sarcophagus corner and the sweep of its quiff and bold jaw calls up the great American crooner.


The Vatican’s Bust of Socrates and Anthony Hopkins

Left: Socrates bust at the Vatican. Photo by Alamy. Right: Anthony Hopkins. Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage.

Hopkins’s long career has seen him play some of Shakespeare’s greatest characters, a Marvel god, an iconic cannibal, and Richard Nixon. This 2nd century C.E. bust of Socrates housed in the Vatican suggests the Welsh actor would be a good match to play one of history’s most influential philosophers.


A Thomas Ball Sculpture and Nick Offerman

Left: Thomas Ball’s statue of Edwin Forrest. Photo: whereitbegan, via Reddit. Right: Nick Offerman. Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW.

Best known for his role as the ornery libertarian Ron Swanson in TV series Parks and Recreation, Offerman finds his likeness in the sculpture of another actor: Edwin Forrest, a giant of the 19th-century stage. Created by the artist Thomas Ball, the sculpture stood outside Forrest’s Philadelphia home until his death in 1872. Today it stands inside the city’s Walnut Street Theatre.


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