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Gun ‘Van Gogh killed himself with’ to go under hammer

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The revolver with which Vincent van Gogh is believed to have shot himself is to go under the hammer Wednesday at a Paris auction house.

Billed as “the most famous weapon in the history of art”, the seven mm Lefaucheux revolver is expected to fetch up to 60,000 euros ($67,000).

Van Gogh experts believe that he shot himself with the revolver near the village of Auvers-sur-Oise north of Paris, where he spent the last few months of his life in 1890.

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Discovered by a farmer in 1965 in the same field where the troubled Dutch painter is thought to have fatally wounded himself, the gun has already been exhibited at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

While Art Auction, who are selling the gun, say there is no way of being absolutely certain that it is the fatal weapon, tests showed it had been in the ground for 75 years, which would fit.

The Dutch artist had borrowed the gun from the owner of the inn in the village where he was staying.

He died 36 hours later after staggering wounded back to the auberge in the dark.

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It was not his first dramatic act of self-harm. Two years earlier in 1888, he cut off his ear before offering it to a woman in a brothel in Arles in the south of France.

While most art historians agree that Van Gogh killed himself, that assumption has been questioned in recent years, with some researchers claiming that the fatal shot may have been fired accidentally by two local boys playing with the weapon in the field.

– Were local boys to blame? –

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That theory won fresh support from a new biopic of the artist starring Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”.

Its director, the renowned American painter Julian Schnabel, told AFP that Van Gogh had painted 75 canvasses in his 80 days at Auvers-sur-Oise and was unlikely to be suicidal.

The legendary French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere — who co-wrote the script with Schnabel — insisted that there “is absolutely no proof he killed himself.

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“Do I believe that Van Gogh killed himself? Absolutely not!” he declared when the film was premiered at the Venice film festival last September.

He said Van Gogh painted some of his best work in his final days, including his “Portrait of Dr Gachet”, the local doctor who later tried to save his life.

It set a world record when it sold for $82.5 million in 1990.

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The bullet Dr Gachet extracted from Van Gogh’s chest was the same calibre as the one used by the Lefaucheux revolver.

– ‘He was not at all sad’ –

“Van Gogh was working constantly. Every day he made a new work. He was not at all sad,” Carriere argued.

In the film the gun goes off after the two young boys, who were brothers, got into a struggle with the bohemian stranger.

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Auction Art said that the farmer who found the gun in 1965 gave it to the owners of the inn at Auvers-sur-Oise, whose family are now selling it.

“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,” it said.

“All these clues give credence to the theory that this is the weapon used in the suicide.”

That did not exclude, the auction house added, that the gun could also have been hidden or abandoned by the two young brothers in the field.

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The auction comes as crowds are flocking to an immersive Van Gogh exhibition in the French capital which allows “the audience to enter his landscapes” through projections on the gallery’s walls, ceilings and floors.

“Van Gogh, Starry Night” runs at the Atelier des Lumieres in the east of the city until December.


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‘This was the smoking gun!’ MSNBC’s Morning Joe explains why Mulvaney ‘confession’ could end Trump presidency

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MSNBC's Joe Scarborough said White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney had offered "smoking gun" evidence in a stunning confession to the crime at the heart of the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

The "Morning Joe" host said Mulvaney had made a stunning "confession," but he said the president had on the same day endorsed the ethnic cleansing of the Kurdish allies he had betrayed to Turkey.

"There's so much to talk about, we joke for a few minutes at the top of the show, Mika likes do that, me, I like to get straight into the news," said Scarborough, who frequently annoys his wife and co-host by bantering about sports at the start of the show. "But there's so much going on that if somebody just woke up this morning they might not think that yesterday was not one of the most significant news days in, during the Trump presidency, and I may even argue one of the most significant news days over perhaps the last decade, just in terms of volume."

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Vote-splitting fears raised in final days of Canada election

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In the dying days of what Justin Trudeau described as one of the "nastiest" election campaigns in Canadian history -- with plenty of mudslinging, attack ads and misinformation -- he played up fears on Thursday of vote-splitting handing victory to his rival Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives.

Policy announcements gave way to calls to vote strategically to keep Trudeau's Liberals in power and prevent a rollback of his progressive policies by the Tories.

Pollsters predict a minority government -- either Liberal or Conservative -- resulting from the October 21 ballot.

Attack ads accused Liberals of seeking to legalize hard drugs and the Tories of allowing assault rifles on Canadian streets -- claims that are flat out wrong or exaggerated, respectively.

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Japan emperor to proclaim enthronement in ritual-bound ceremony

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Japan's new Emperor Naruhito will formally proclaim his ascension to the throne next week in a ritual-bound ceremony, but the after-effects of deadly typhoon will cast a shadow over proceedings.

Naruhito officially assumed his duties as emperor on May 1, a day after his father became the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in 200 years.

But the transition will not be complete until his new role is officially proclaimed on Tuesday, in a series of events expected to be attended by foreign dignitaries from nearly 200 countries.

The event will come just over a week after Typhoon Hagibis slammed into Japan, killing nearly 80 people and leaving a trail of destruction.

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