Gun allegedly used in Van Gogh′s death sold at auction | News | DW | 19.06.2019
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Gun allegedly used in Van Gogh's death sold at auction

A gun dubbed "the most famous weapon in the history of art" went under the hammer at an auction in Paris. Some criticized the sale of the gun, saying it was a "commercialization" of Van Gogh's death.

A revolver that painter Vincent Van Gogh is believed to have used to kill himself sold at a Paris auction on Wednesday for €162,500 ($182,000).

The rusty 7mm revolver fetched over three times its estimated price and was purchased by a private collector whose name was not released.

A farmer found the weapon in 1965 in a field in the northern French village of Auvers-sur-Oise where Van Gogh spent the last few months of his life.

The Dutch artist is believed to have shot himself in the chest in the field, eventually dying from his wounds in July 1890.

The farmer who found the gun gave it to the former owners of the inn where Van Gogh eventually died. The family decided to sell the gun after it was featured in a 2016 exhibit at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

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Immersed in the Works of Van Gogh

Controversy over sale

The sale of the gun, dubbed "the most famous weapon in the history of art," sparked controversy in the art history world and re-ignited the debate over Van Gogh's death.

The Van Gogh Institute, which looks after the inn where the painter spent his final days, issued a statement calling into question the gun's authenticity.

"Nothing suggests that the remains [of the gun] are formally linked with the death of Van Gogh," the institute said.

In its statement, the institute also condemned the sale of the gun as a "commercialization of a tragedy which deserves more respect."

Auction Art, the auction house that sold the gun, prefaced the sale by saying there is no way to be completely certain that it was used in Van Gogh's death.

The revolver which Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh supposedly used to kill himself (picture-alliance/dpa/MAXPPP/Mousse)

The rusty revolver was found in a field where Van Gogh is believed to have shot himself

They added, however, that numerous tests showed the gun had previously fired and that it had been buried in the ground for around 75 years — fitting the timeline of Van Gogh's death.

Furthermore, the bullet that was recovered from the artist's chest was the same caliber as the one used by the revolver.

Even if the gun played a role in Van Gogh's death, some argue that it doesn't prove that the artist killed himself.

Although many art historians agree that Van Gogh committed suicide, some researchers in recent years have questioned that narrative, claiming that he was fatally shot by two teenagers in the field.

rs/sms (AP, AFP)

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