Thicke died of a heart attack on Tuesday after playing ice hockey with his son at Pickwick Ice in Burbank, California. Apparently, Vartan was playing on the same rink that day and never spoke to the Thickes.
However, multiple outlets reported on Wednesday that Vartan and Thicke chatted on the ice about their shared appreciation for a certain street artist ― minutes before his heart attack. Thicke was reportedly taken with the artist’s work and wanted to commission a piece.
That conversation never actually took place.
To drum up publicity, the unnamed street artist impersonated Vartan in conversations with TMZ and The Daily News. The story then made its way to other sites. Evidently, the man has a phone number that used to belong to Vartan and, when media reached out with questions regarding Thicke, he fabricated a story about the two actors bonding over his artwork. TMZ has since removed its piece from its website.
Vartan’s publicist confirmed that no such exchange took place in a statement to clear up the confusion.
“Although Michael played hockey at the same rink as Alan Thicke yesterday, he did not have the opportunity to speak with Alan, so the reports have all been false,” she told The Daily News.
The street artist later released an apology to explain why he decided to capitalize on Thicke’s death.
“I do want to go ahead and issue an apology to the family of Robin Thicke,” he says in a video posted to social media. “I just want you to know that this was not a joke. It was not anything that was meant in ill will. It was a fine piece of art expressing the irresponsibility of media today ... [and] about people not believing everything they see on television.”
Here’s an idea: Maybe not intentionally spreading fake news is the best way to stop spreading fake news.