A DESCENDANT of artist Vincent van Gogh living at Arawata has disputed a new account of how van Gogh died.
John Koenders – the great grand nephew of van Gogh – believes his famous relative was murdered but not by the same people identified in a new book by Pulitzer Prize winning American authors, Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith.
Mr Koenders and his wife Di have made a documentary about the life of van Gogh that was shown at the Cannes Film Festival this year, and could soon be aired on television stations around the world.
In that documentary, the Koenders agree with Naifeh and Smith’s book Van Gogh: The Life that van Gogh was murdered, but not accidentally shot by two teenage boys the authors claim were responsible, including 16-year-old Rene Secretan.
The Koenders’ say their documentary reveals the people they believe were responsible for the murder and told The Star van Gogh’s doctor, Dr Gachet, was most likely involved although not the killer.
Until now, it has widely been thought that van Gogh committed suicide by shooting himself.
The Koenders were interviewed by Melbourne media last week and their version of events is likely to gain headlines around the world.
“We feel that there were other people involved in Vincent’s death,” Mr Koenders said.
“We have straightened this out for the first time. We are actually telling the truth about the whole episode.”
They felt Dr Gachet did not shoot the artists but believed he was involved, as he did not approve of the romance developing between his 18-year-old daughter Marguerite and van Gogh, 37. Van Gogh was shot after he argued with the doctor.
Police interviewed several boys regarding the shooting, Mr Koenders said.
Mrs Koenders said she saw a sworn statement by a woman whose mother was a friend of Marguerite, which stated Marguerite never married and villagers reported seeing her make a daily pilgrimage to van Gogh’s grave.
Other mysteries cloud the suicide theory.
“Why would he have committed suicide when he was being recognised for his artwork? Why shoot himself in the stomach and not the head or heart? Why did the bullet not pass through him when fired at such a close range?” Mr Koenders said.
“In those days, the majority of powder was black so if you shoot yourself, you would have powder burns.”
Mr Koenders said he was aware Rene Secretan liked to dress as a cowboy.
“We knew about this kid but there are so many things in their story that are rubbish,” Mr Koenders said.
The Koenders’ fascination with van Gogh began four years ago when they received a phone call from Holland, explaining evidence had been found Mr Koenders was related to van Gogh.
“I thought it was rubbish,” Mr Koenders said.
His uncle rang and told him the call was genuine and had been from the genealogical division of the Dutch government.
The Koenders’ documentary, Vincent, the Untold Story of our Uncle, was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in April, in a bid to find a distributor after four years in the making.
The production was filmed by the Koenders and narrated by James Wright, a friend of Australian actor, Bud Tingwell. Bud was to narrate the film but died with the script next to his bed, Mr Koenders said.
The Koenders spent six months travelling around Holland gathering footage for the production.
“When you say you’re related to Vincent, people start telling you strange stories,” Mr Koenders said.
A Canadian company, Canada Media, is now seeking to distribute the documentary to international television stations.
CCTV in China and Arabic network Aljazeera have confirmed they will broadcast the documentary.
Dutch company Source Media could release the DVD with a book.
“We did not set out to make a controversial document,” Mrs Koenders said.
“We set out to find out about John’s connection and Vincent’s life because we felt there was not enough detail of his life. We came across a lot of detail that did not add up.”
Short URL: /?p=2424