Dutch master Van Gogh died in Auvers-sur-Oise, France, in 1890 aged 37. The authors came to their conclusion after 10 years of study with more than 20 translators and researchers. They said thousands of previously untranslated letters written by the artist were among documents studied to create a research database containing 28,000 notes.
Van Gogh had been staying at the Auberge Ravoux inn from where he would walk to local wheat fields to paint. It has long been thought that he shot himself in a wheat field before returning to the inn where he later died. But author Steven Naifeh said,
[It was] very clear to us that he did not go into the wheat fields with the intention of shooting himself. The accepted understanding of what happened in Auvers among the people who knew him was that he was killed accidentally by a couple of boys and he decide to protect them by accepting the blame.”
He said that renowned art historian John Rewald had recorded that version of events when he visited Auvers in the 1930s and other details were found that corroborated the theory. They include the assertion that the bullet entered Van Gogh’s upper abdomen from an oblique angle – not straight on as might be expected from a suicide.
These two boys, one of whom was wearing a cowboy outfit and had a malfunctioning gun that he played cowboy with, were known to go drinking at that hour of day with Vincent. So you have a couple of teenagers who have a malfunctioning gun, you have a boy who likes to play cowboy, you have three people probably all of whom had too much to drink.”