You Know His Name. Now Meet His $183K 'Suicide Gun'

Revolver linked to Vincent Van Gogh has a new owner
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2019 7:49 AM CDT
You Know His Name. Now Meet His $183K 'Suicide Gun'
The revolver believed to have been used by Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh to take his own life sold at an auction in Paris on Wednesday.   (Stephane Briolant/Drouot via AP)

Someone just paid six figures for a corroded gun that almost certainly doesn't shoot. But then, the point of having "the most famous weapon in the history of art” isn't to use it—as Vincent Van Gogh allegedly did, fatally. The 7mm Lefaucheux revolver sold at a Wednesday auction in Paris for a whopping $183,000, a figure nearly three times the estimate, reports CNN. Auction house AuctionArt couldn't confirm the weapon's provenance, but cited various evidence indicating "it must be Van Gogh's suicide gun." A farmer reportedly found it in 1965 in the field in the French village of Auvers-sur-Oise where Van Gogh is said to have shot himself in the stomach on July 27, 1890. He died two days later.

AuctionArt adds "its caliber is the same as the bullet retrieved from the artist's body" and "scientific studies demonstrate that the gun had stayed in the ground since the 1890s." The Art Newspaper reports it was not deeply buried but relatively close to the surface, as one would expect of a gun that had been simply dropped. Once discovered, it was given to owners of a village inn, who left it to family members. It was exhibited at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 2016, helping to raise its historical value. However, the Van Gogh Institute condemned the sale and the "commercialization of a tragedy which deserves more respect," claiming "nothing suggests that the remains [of the revolver] are formally linked with the death of Van Gogh," per AFP. The winning telephone bid came from an unidentified private collector. (More Vincent Van Gogh stories.)

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