Gun that Van Gogh killed himself with goes up for sale
PARIS - AFP
Discovered by a farmer in 1965 in the same field where the troubled Dutch painter is thought to have fatally wounded himself 75 years before, the gun has already been exhibited at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
Billed by Auction Art as "the most famous weapon in the history of art," the 7 mm Lefaucheux revolver is expected to go for up to 60,000 euros when it is sold on June 19.
The Dutch artist had borrowed the gun from the owner of the inn where he was staying. He died 36 hours later after staggering wounded back to the inn in the dark.
It was not his first dramatic act of self-harm. Two years earlier in 1888, he cut off his ear before offering it to a woman in a brothel in Arles in the south of France.
While most art historians agree that Van Gogh killed himself, that assumption has been questioned in recent years, with some researchers claiming that the fatal shot may have been fired accidentally by two local boys playing with the weapon in the field.
That theory got fresh support from a new biopic of the artist starring Willem Dafoe, "At Eternity's Gate."
The legendary French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere, who co-wrote the script with Schnabel, insisted that there "is absolutely no proof he killed himself. "Do I believe that Van Gogh killed himself? Absolutely not!" he declared when the film was premiered at the Venice film festival in September.
It set a world record when it sold for $82.5 million in 1990.
In the film the gun goes off after the two young boys, who were brothers, got into a struggle with the bohemian stranger.
Auction Art said that the farmer who found the gun in 1965 gave it to the owners of the inn at Auvers-sur-Oise, whose family are now selling it.
"Technical tests on the weapon have shown the weapon was used and indicate that it stayed in the ground for a period that would coincide with 1890," it said.
"All these clues give credence to the theory that this is the weapon used in the suicide."