CGI of Indian cricketer's 'Times Square statue' circulates after World Cup win

Manipulated images of Indian cricketer Virat Kohli's statue in New York's Times Square that were first shared as an online marketing stunt have been misrepresented as genuine in social media posts. The false claim circulated online after Kohli led India to victory against South Africa in the T20 World Cup in June 2024.

"A statue of Virat Kohli was installed at America's famous Time Square. The Powerplay country of the world also saluted Virat's stature in the cricket world," read a Hindi-language Facebook post shared on June 27, 2024.

It included a collage of images that appeared to show Kohli's statue in Times Square.

Screenshot of the false Facebook post

The post surfaced as India won the T20 World Cup title in a dramatic and emotional fashion with Kohli starring in a thrilling seven-run victory over South Africa.

It was a sweet farewell for the veteran cricketer, who later announced his retirement from T20 internationals.

Comments from users suggested they were misled into believing that the images showed a genuine statue of him in Times Square.

"Congratulations and thanks New York," one user wrote.

"Global face of cricket," wrote another.

Similar posts falsely portraying the images as showing a real monument were also shared on Facebook and social media site X.

CGI video

A reverse search on Google, however, found the images correspond to frames in a video uploaded by Indian firm Duroflex on its Instagram page on June 23, 2024 (archived link).

Duroflex is an Indian shopping and retail brand that makes mattresses and pillows.

The firm signed Virat Kohli as a brand ambassador in May 2023, according to a report by the Indian news organisation Mint (archived link).

Part of the caption in its post read, "Just Unveiled: A larger-than-life statue of Virat Kohli at the iconic Times Square."

The video was "made using CGI and to promote Duroflex's brand," a representative for Duroflex told AFP.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the images in the false posts (left) with their corresponding frames from the video uploaded by Duroflex (right):

Screenshot comparison of the images in the false posts (left) with their corresponding frames from the video uploaded by Duroflex (right)

No such statue has been seen in images of Times Square posted on the automated live-streaming network EarthCam since the false posts circulated online (archived link).


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