The revolver with which Vincent van Gogh is believed to have shot himself sold for 162,500 euros ($182,000) at a Paris auction on Wednesday — nearly three times the estimate.
A private collector bought the gun, billed as the “the most famous weapon in the history of art”, with a telephone bid, Art Auction told AFP.
Discovered by a farmer in 1965 in a field near Auvers-sur-Oise, a village north of Paris where the troubled Dutch painter spent the last few months of his life, the gun had previously been exhibited at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
The troubled Dutch painter died in July 1890 and experts believe he shot himself with the revolver in field near Auvers-sur-Oise, a village north of Paris where he spent the last few months of his life.
While Art Auction, which is selling the gun, says there is no way of being absolutely certain it is the fatal weapon, tests showed it has been in the ground for 75 years, which would fit.
The Dutch artist had borrowed the gun from the owner of the village inn where he was staying.
He died 36 hours later after staggering back wounded to the auberge in the dark.
The bullet extracted from Van Gogh’s chest was the same calibre as the one used by the Lefaucheux revolver.
But it was not his first dramatic act of self-harm. Two years earlier, he cut off his ear which he offered to a woman in a brothel in Arles in southern France.
Auction Art said the farmer who found the gun in 1965 gave it to the former 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.”
While most art historians agree Van Gogh killed himself, that assumption has been questioned in recent years, with some claiming the fatal shot may have been fired accidentally by two local boys playing with the weapon in the field.
That theory won fresh support from a new biopic of the artist starring Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”, in which the gun goes off after the two brothers get into a struggle with the bohemian stranger.
The film’s director, the renowned American painter Julian Schnabel, told AFP that Van Gogh had painted 75 canvasses in his 80 days at Auvers-sur-Oise and was unlikely to be suicidal.
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