Rimbaud and Verlaine gun beats estimate by 503%

The gun that poet Paul Verlaine used to shoot his lover, fellow poet Arthur Rimbaud, has sold for $460,000.

It smashed its estimate of $76,160 by 503.9% at Christie's Paris on November 30.


Paul Verlaine shot Arthur Rimbaud on July 10, 1873

The incident happened in Brussels on July 10, 1873.

The two men had embarked on a passionate but destructive affair between 1871 and 1873. It included a sordid year spent in the drinking dens of London that inspired Rimbaud's A Season in Hell.

Verlaine finished things by slapping Rimbaud in the face with a fish and getting on a train back to Paris.

However, after a month apart he contacted Rimbaud - asking him to come to a hotel in Brussels.

Soon after they met, they began drinking and quarrelling again.

Verlaine disappeared and returned with a revolver, which he drunkenly discharged into Rimbaud's wrist.

Remarkably, this seemed to do the trick. Rimbaud bandaged his wrist and Verlaine seemed to calm down.  

But as the hours wore on, Verlaine became increasingly drunk and violent. Fearing for his life, Rimbaud got the attention of a policeman and had Verlaine arrested.

Both Verlaine and Rimbaud are important cultural figures in France and the story is a famous one, explaining the huge demand for the pistol at auction.

Other materials associated with Rimbaud have performed well in the past, with a sketch he produced in London selling for $285,600 in 2012.

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