Now, the gun thought to be that used to shoot himself will be offered at an auction in France next week.
Although there have been different theories about how he was injured it is largely believed he shot himself in a field behind the village church in Auvers-sur-Oise. Seriously injured, the next morning he returned to his lodgings at Arthur Ravoux’s inn and died two days later.
ArtAuction Rémy le fur describes the gun as the “most famous weapon in art history” and has estimated it at €40,000-€60,000 at its sale at Drouot on June 19.
The grim artefact was loaned to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 2016 for the exhibition On the Verge of Insanity: Van Gogh and his illness and a number of experts believe it to be the gun that killed van Gogh.
The auction house said in a statement that the corroded revolver was found in the field by a farmer around 1960 and was handed to the current owner’s mother. According to research by author Alain Rohan several pieces of evidence point to it being van Gogh’s gun: it was discovered where he shot it, its caliber (7mm) is the same as the bullet retrieved from his body, scientific studies demonstrate that the gun had stayed in the ground since the 1890s and it is a low power gun so it could explain why he did not die instantly.
The auction house acknowledges that another theory that van Gogh was actually a victim of an accident when two boys playing with the gun nearby pressed the trigger by mistake.
The auction house argues that if this theory, proposed by two US researchers in 2011, is believed the weapon “could still be the one that killed van Gogh”.