The 7-millimeter Lefaucheux revolver, which is heavily rusted, was sold by the Drouot auction house in Paris to a private collector through a telephone bid. The inlay of the gun’s handle is also missing.
“It is a very emblematic piece,” auctioneer Gregoire Veyres told the Independent. “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.”
According to a fact sheet from the auction house, the gun was found in a field at Auvers-sur-Oise, just outside Paris, around 1960. It is believed to be the same field where Van Gogh shot himself in July 1890.
“Several pieces of evidence show it must be Van Gogh’s suicide gun: it was discovered where Van Gogh shot it; its caliber (7 mm) is the same as the bullet retrieved from the artist’s body as described by the doctor at the time; scientific studies demonstrate that the gun had stayed in the ground since the 1890s and finally, it is a low power gun so it could explain why Van Gogh didn’t instantly die after shooting it,” the fact sheet states.
The revolver had previously been displayed at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 2016.
Van Gogh, who suffered from psychosis and deep depression, is believed to have committed suicide at the age of 37 by shooting himself in the stomach. He died 36 hours later, even after being attended to by doctors.
The troubled painter, who is famous for works like “The Starry Night” and “Sunflowers,” also cut off his own ear with a razor in 1888 before placing it in a piece of paper and delivering it to a brothel he frequently visited in the city of Arles in southern France.