The rusted revolver Vincent van Gogh reportedly used to kill himself has sold for three times its estimate during an auction in Paris.
The 19th century weapon, which was discovered buried in a farmer’s field, sold at AuctionArt on June 19 for €162,000 (approximately $181,600).
The gun, described as “the most famous weapon in the history of art”, had initially been expected to fetch just €40,000 – €60,000 ($45,000 – $67,500).
During the last months of his life Vincent Van Gogh lived at the Ravoux Inn in the French village of Auvers-sur-Oise, and spent much of his time painting in the surrounding fields.
He had suffered with severe depression throughout his life, and had recently returned from a stay at an asylum in Saint-Rémy.
The natural landscape, and the surroundings of an artist’s commune, initially seemed to lift his spirits, but this respite didn’t last long and he soon became despondent once more.
On July 27, 1890 Van Gogh borrowed a 7mm Lefaucheux revolver from the owner of the inn, and wandered off into a nearby cornfield.
When he arrived back at the inn several hours later, his hosts discovered the gunshot wound to his stomach and called his physician Dr. Paul Gachet.
Sadly the wound was too severe, and 36 hours later Van Gogh died in agony. According to his brother Theo, his last words were “The sadness will last forever”.
The gun was eventually found by a farmer in 1965, buried just below the surface of the soil, and was presented to the owners of the inn where Van Gogh had stayed 75 years previously.
However, its existence was not revealed until 2012, and it was later exhibited at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 2016.
The location of the gun’s discovery, the calibre of the weapon and forensic testing on its decomposition all point to its authenticity.
All that remains is the mystery behind who pulled the trigger.
The question of whether Van Gogh killed himself or was shot by someone else has fascinated historians for decades, and today’s sale looks set to reignite the debate.