Revolver Allegedly Used by Vincent Van Gogh to Shoot Himself Sells for $145,000

    The revolver on display at the Drouot auction house in Paris (Charles Platiau)

    The revolver which Vincent Van Gogh allegedly used to shoot himself has sold for almost three times more than its anticipated selling price. Sold in Paris last week for 130,000 Euros or $145,700 the revolver was said to be the pistol the troubled Dutch painter used to shoot himself almost 130 years ago.

    The gun was bought by an anonymous phone bidder with auctioneer Gregoire Veyres saying: “It is a very emblematic piece. The fact that it’s a gun, it’s an object of death. And if van Gogh is van Gogh, it’s because of his suicide and this gun is part of it.” Van Gogh shot himself in the chest at an inn he had been staying at in Auvers-sur-Oise, just outside Paris.

    The pistol is a 7mm Lefaucheux pinfire revolver, it is in pretty bad condition and is believed to have spent some time buried before it was discovered by a farmer decades ago. The badly rusted and bent pinfire is missing its grip panels and is estimated to have spent more than 50 years in the ground before it was discovered.

    Van Gogh revolver

    Lefaucheux revolver on public display at Paris’ Drouot auction house (AFP)

    The auction listing gives the pistol’s provenance:

    Discovered by a farmer around 1960 in the field where Vincent van Gogh attempted his life on July 27, 1890, given to the owner of the inn where the artist died,
    stayed in the family by descent.

    The Drouot auction house said that “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. All these clues give credence to the theory that this is the weapon used in the suicide.”

    Not everyone, however, believes the revolver was used by Van Gogh. The Van Gogh Institute criticised the auction saying in a statement that “Nothing suggests that the remains (of the gun) are formally linked with the death of Van Gogh, commercialization of a tragedy which deserves more respect”.

    Sources: 1 2 3
    Matthew Moss

    Matthew Moss – Assistant Editor.

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written for a variety of publications in both the US and UK he also runs, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of, a new video series on historically significant small arms.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]