New Theory: Van Gogh Was Murdered Local boy shot him, authors of ' Van Gogh: The Life' suggest By Matt Cantor, Newser User Posted Oct 17, 2011 6:45 AM CDT 24 comments Comments Visitors stand in front of a painting by Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. (Getty Images) (Newser) – The accepted explanation for Vincent Van Gogh's death may be all wrong. While the standard story is that the artist shot himself in a field, managing to return to a nearby inn before he died, a new 900-page book paints a very different picture. In Van Gogh: The Life, Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith postulate that a local teenager shot Van Gogh, likely accidentally, the Telegraph reports. The teen, one Rene Secretan, had formed an odd relationship with Van Gogh; he mocked the painter and bought him drinks. After the shooting, Van Gogh was asked whether he intended to kill himself; he said, "Yes, I believe so." Naifeh and Smith say the painter didn't want to get the boy in trouble and wanted to die anyway. They also write that the angle of the bullet's entry path isn't what you'd expect in a suicide. The authors' version, which the BBC notes is based on thousands of letters studied over a decade, helps explain why neither a gun nor a suicide note was found, but they acknowledge that "no one knows what happened."