Vincent van Gogh letter tops US auction at $280,000

A rare handwritten letter from Vincent van Gogh has sold at the top of an important California auction, which was held on December 18.

Vincent van Gogh handwritten letter auction
Van Gogh suffered from epilepsy and bipolar disorder, both worsened by drinking absinthe

Featuring as part of the Property of a Distinguished American Private Collector, the letter sold for $280,000, pushing toward the top of its $200,000-300,000 estimate. Dating to 1890, it sees the pioneering artist discussing his mental and physical health just months before his death.

The letter was sent to his close friends Joseph and Marie Ginoux, who were the owners of the Cafe de la Gare, in Arles, France, where the artist had lived for a short while. Marie had recently been taken ill and van Gogh candidly discusses his own illness to comfort her, quoting: "Disease exists to remind us we are not made of wood…"

Van Gogh's mental and physical illness has been widely publicised since his death. He suffered from epilepsy and also from bipolar disorder.

At the onset of a new bout of illness, the artist shot himself on July 27, 1890, with his brother Theo reporting his last words as "the sadness will last forever".

The result is confirmation of the strong demand for handwritten documents from the art world's leading figures.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has this Claude Monet handwritten letter for sale, as well as an example from Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

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