Media takes notice of sophomore’s museum doppelgänger

After a photo of himself went viral, Galuppo looks for ancestral ties to his newfound 16th century doppelganger.

When Max Galuppo posted his museum photo on Reddit it went viral and led to media attention. He plans to find out if he shares any relation the subject of the painting. | COURTESY NIKKIE CURTIS
When Max Galuppo posted his museum photo on Reddit it went viral and led to media attention. He plans to find out if he shares any relation the subject of the painting. | COURTESY NIKKIE CURTIS

Reddit, a popular photo and link-sharing site that allows people to contribute funny or surprising news, was the first to showcase the uncanny similarity in appearance between Max Galuppo and a 16th-century nobleman in the painting “Portrait of a Nobleman with Dueling Gauntlet,” part of the John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

When Galuppo, a sophomore political science and religion major, and his girlfriend, Nikkie Curtis, visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Curtis first took notice of the painting.

“I didn’t notice the painting at all, and my girlfriend [Curtis] said, ‘You gotta see this,’” Galuppo said.

At first, he said he didn’t see the resemblance, though many news reporters certainly did, as Good Morning America and the local ABC and CBS stations were quick to interview him.

“Now that I see the comparison, it’s clear,” he said, in reference to the picture Curtis first snapped of Galuppo and his painted doppelganger.

Galuppo has received a massive amount of media attention, but is not fazed by the focus he has come under.

Articles about his look-alike painting can be viewed on websites like Philly.com, Buzzfeed.com, Huffingtonpost.com and several entertainment news site aggregates.

“I heard Ripley’s Believe It or Not wants it for a book in the U.K.,” Galuppo said.

He admitted to being amused by the attention he has received, but not worried that he will have to endure extended press scrutiny, even though the story and photo has circulated the globe.

“It’s at the point where it’s surreal, it’s everywhere. It’s in Hong Kong and Croatia,” Galuppo said.

The massive awareness of his one-of-a-kind find is exciting, but not overwhelming for the Temple student.

“I fully expect it to be dead in another week,” Galuppo said, referring to the Internet’s fixation on his discovery.

The attention he has received is not the aspect Galuppo finds most exciting about his newfound twin, but has rather inspired him to research his own genealogy in hopes of finding long-lost ties to the man in the painting.

“The painting is an enigma, no one knows who painted it,” Galuppo said. “There’s almost no information on the painting itself.”

This is something he hopes to change, as he knows that his family on his grandfather’s side is from Florence, Italy. Florence is close to the area in Italy that the painting is thought to originate from, called Emilia. The goal Galuppo currently has in mind is to trace his routes back to 1562, the date the work of art was supposedly painted, and look for ties to the portrait he saw at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Galuppo plans to investigate using Ancestry.com, which helps aspiring genealogists look into their family history to discover information about their ancestors. He said, as of Nov. 16, no discoveries have been made with this method, but he is determined to find some evidence leading him in the right direction.

“I’ve been trying to team up with a genealogist to figure it out,” Galuppo said.

Since he doesn’t know any background information about the painting, such as the name of the man it features, his search is undeniably challenged, but not impossible.

Ancestry.com features a new option called AncestryDNA, which tests human chromosomes called autosomes, containing trace elements of one’s entire family tree, a complete genetic record. Available to order today, this could help Galuppo to uncover a connection to his 16th-century doppelganger, although he did not mention using this testing as a strategy at this point.

“Some people have said, ‘you need an agent, and you need to make money from this,’” Galuppo said. “But it’s really just for fun.”

He conceded that the mystery of “Portrait of a Nobleman with Dueling Gauntlet” provides a fun, entertaining inquiry into his family’s past.

In addition to his more realistic research, some Reddit.com users have developed their own theories. One such user, “Anjz,” commented on the posted picture of Galuppo and the painting: “There is only one other reason for this – he’s a time traveler!”

Erin Edinger-Turoff can be reached at erin.edinger-turoff@temple edu.

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