The Upshot

New questions surround the death of Van Gogh

The Upshot

Vincent Van Gogh has long been a the poster boy for geniuses who were appreciated only after they died. Not one of his paintings sold during his lifetime. But while his creative legacy is unquestioned, a new theory has raised some doubts about the official story of his death.

CBS's "60 Minutes" recently aired a story about two journalists who believe Van Gogh may not have taken his own life. Instead, they believe ) that the iconic painter may have been murdered.

They've also published a book to advance their claim. Van Gogh: A Life, by Gregory White Smith and Steven Naifeh, contends that the great impressionist painter was most likely murdered by two local teens. Prior to this book, most people believed that Van Gogh shot himself in a field before stumbling back to his room, where he died more than a day later.

The book, which argues that Van Gogh lied to protect his alleged assailants because he wanted to die, raises some interesting questions. Why, for example, were the paintbrushes and easel that Van Gogh took with him to the field never recovered? Why did no one discover a suicide note? And why were investigators unable to locate the gun that Van Gogh allegedly used on himself?

Still, some experts remain unswayed by the new theory. Leo Jansen, curator of the Van Gogh Museum and editor of the artist's letters, remarked that Van Gogh: A Life is a "great book" but that the authors lack any solid proof to support their thesis.

Jansen also remarked that all we really have to go on is what Van Gogh said while he was dying. Van Gogh was asked if he intended to kill himself, and he reportedly said, "Yes, I believe so."

You can watch the entire "60 Minutes" segment above and decide for yourself.

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