As Wyatt Earp strode the boardwalks on Allen Street and dealt faro in the Oriental Saloon, 5,000 miles to the east, a young Dutchman, age 26, made a belated decision to become an artist. The year was 1881, and while Earp had a showdown coming in the fall, and Billy the Kid had mere weeks to live, Vincent van Gogh, who himself had a mere nine years left to live, launched himself on a fiery and ultimately fatal and tragic march into the history books and immortality. That Vincent would eclipse both Earp, the Kid, and even Jesse James, in international fame is a strange note, to me, but the fact that the Wild West connected them all is the most crazy story of all.
Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show came to Paris in 1889 to perform at the International Exposition, or Exposition Universelle as it was billed in France. This was also the festival that premiered the Eiffel Tower to the world. All of Cody's shows were sold out and everyone in Europe was suddenly crazy about the Wild West. The up and coming artist Paul Gauguin scored tickets and immediately went out and bought a Buffalo Bill hat, which appears to be a Boss of The Plains style chapeau, at least in the self-portrait of Gauguin that hangs in the Musee d"Orsay.
So how does Buffalo Bill figure into the death of van Gogh? Read on.
After some searching and accosting neighbors in the subdivision at upper left in the photo, we found the site.
Now, a few details about the gun that killed van Gogh.