PARIS – The gun which the artist Vincent Van Gogh is suspected to have used in his suicide sold at auction for $182,000 on Wednesday.
The item went to an anonymous private buyer, who paid around three times the expected sale price, previously estimated at between $45,000 and $67,000.
He won the gun after placing 18 bids at Drouot auction house in Paris.
The Lefaucheux revolver was found in 1960 by a farmer in the field where Van Gogh allegedly fatally shot himself in the chest.
Drouot sales commissioner Gregoire Veyres said: “The bid has lived up to the expectation created by this legendary weapon, the international interest aroused by this sale shows the myth that surrounds Vincent Van Gogh.”
The auction house has defended the weapon’s authenticity, despite difficulties in knowing whether it was actually the revolver that was lost on the day and only found 70 years later.
According to the auction house, the gun’s 7mm caliber matches that of the bullet found in the body of Van Gogh and its trigger is in open position, meaning it had been fired.
The rusted condition of the Lefaucheux was explained by the fact that it has been buried for decades.
Van Gogh’s suspected suicide is also controversial, with some experts maintaining that he was the victim of a homicide or accident.
Two days after his serious injury, the 19th-century artist died in room number 5 of the Arthur Ravoux inn in Auvers-sur-Oise, northwest of Paris.
Most of those who believe that the painter killed himself rely on the fact that Van Gogh was plagued by mental health issues throughout his life.
His creative prowess was in many ways fueled by his emotional struggles, with some of his most productive periods were often linked to challenging moments.
In 1988, after a row with fellow painter Paul Gaugin, he famously chopped his left ear off.
It was in that same year when he was admitted to a psychiatric facility and produced a series of seminal artworks, such as “The Starry Night” (June 1889).
Van Gogh left the hospital in May 1880 and moved to the Auvers-sur-Oise inn where months later, aged 37, he died.
On July 27, 1890, he went to a nearby field and is believed to have shot himself before returning injured to the inn, where he died two days later.