Was Van Gogh Murdered?

a new book is making a shocking claim that Vincent van Gogh might did not commit suicide in 1898 but was in fact killed by a local boy named Rene Secretan. In “Van Gogh: The Life,” Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith suggest that van Gogh was shot by Secretan and then lied to protect the boy.

The death of van Gogh at 37 was never viewed as controversial. He was highly unstable — as evidenced by his cutting off his own ear. Before he died, he was asked if he had shot himself in an suicide and he responded “Yes I believe so.”

Yet, the statement admittedly seems a bit awkward though van Gogh had just staggered from a field with a chest wound and staggered a long distance into the town of Auvers. He died the next day.

What is most provocative is the fact that van Gogh had taken his paint and canvas into the field to paint. It did not seem the act of a suicidal man and he left no suicide note. The 16-year-old boy lived next door and had helped van Gogh get alcohol — though he was also known to taunt and make fun of him.

I have to confess that I remain skeptical, though I have not read the 900-page book. Suicidal people are often unstable (with some exceptions of course). Van Gogh was infamous for his violent and unpredictable nature. His acting without a note seems perfectly inconsistent.

Nevertheless, I do find it strange is his walking a mile to the town. If he could walk, one would think he would finish himself off. I also find a chest wound to be a rare location for a suicidal wound.

I am a huge fan of van Gogh’s paintings. Yet, he is the prototypical example of how brilliance and insanity often walk hand in hand.

Source: NBC

8 thoughts on “Was Van Gogh Murdered?”

  1. The rumor that two young boys shot Vincent van Gogh has been around for decades. See for example page 259 of “Vincent van Gogh: Chemicals, Crises, and Creativity” by Wilfred Arnold, published 1992. There was nothing to support the rumor then, and Naifeh and Smith offer nothing now.

  2. if you have never been to Auvers-sur-Oise, you must go! It is a beautiful spot full of all the taste and texture implied by Van Goghs paintings.

    The graveyard where Theo and Vincent are buried in is just next to that field…full of wheat and edged in poppies and bluets and yes, crows. The town still houses the beautiful little church looking as Gothic as ever tho now filled with pigeons and thier dust….

  3. The conclusion of the authors, as stated in the 60 Minutes show Sunday night, was “undiagnosed (obviously) temporal lobe epilepsy” — which is a chemical/physiological condition, not a mental illness.

  4. Oh great … 900 pages!? … I’m going to have to get the book … then I’m going to call “that fuckin’ Flowers” and get his opinion.

  5. “Before he died, he was asked if he had shot himself in an suicide and he responded ‘Yes I believe so.'”


    Van Gogh added, “And don’t accuse anyone of doing this, either.” Very curious, indeed. Later in life in an obscure medical journal, one of the brothers admitted borrowing the gun used to shoot Van Gogh, but did not tell exactly what happened.

  6. Now look what you have done. I am going to have to go out and buy the book. As a student of suicides for the past four decades, I never did think Van Gogh’s “suicide” passed the smell test. I am interested in what the authors have to say about it.

    Granted he was unstable. I doubt that he was schizophrenic, but probably was bipolar (manic-depressive). What we know of his mood swings appear to be more typical of a bipolar patient than schizophrenic. Persons who are bipolar are most likely to commit suicide when cycling from high to low, or from low to high. Then tend to not kill themselves while either in the depths of depression or on a manic high.

    As for notes, you might be surprised at the number of people who do not leave a note.

Comments are closed.