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Christie's Auction house to sell gun used to shoot poet

Christie's Auction house and Private Sales is going to sell the gun that was used to shoot Arthur Rimbaud twice.

  • Published:
Gun to be auctioned play

Gun to be auctioned


The piece of antiquity is estimated to sell for as much as 55,000 to 76,000 Dollars.

Rimbaud, the poet, has a tortured, complicated and volatile relationship with another poet, Paul Verlaine. He wrote about their relationship in his poem, 'A Season in Hell''. 

I forgot all my human duty to follow him. What a life! The true life is absent. We are not in the world. I go where he goes, I must. And often he flares up at me, me, poor soul. The Demon!—he is a demon, you know, he is not a man.”

Verlaine was suicidal and he was also a drunk. The two quarrelled frequently.

While travelling through Belgium and London, Rimbaud wanted to leave Brussels where they stayed in July 1873 and Verlaine shot him twice, wounding him.

He was later incarcerated for two years with hard labour.

Christie’s has announced that it is going to be selling the gun that Verlaine shot Rimbuad twice with.

The press release from the auction house reads: "Paul Verlaine had bought the gun on the morning of 10 July 1873 from a gunsmith in Brussels. In the afternoon, he attempted to murder Arthur Rimbaud but only managed to reach his wrist. Rimbaud then spent ten days in the hospital, and Verlaine was sent to jail for two years.

The poets had known each other since 1871 and were inseparable. Verlaine was married to Mathilde Mauté, but hardly enjoyed daily life. Together, they decided to flee to London where in May and June 1873, Verlaine and Rimbaud argued violently.

On 3 July, Verlaine leaved London to find refuge in Brussels, where Rimbaud soon joined him. They kept fighting and Rimbaud decided to return to Paris. However, before he could do so, Verlaine shot him twice, shouting 'here’s for you, since you are leaving!'.

Rimbaud called for help and the police arrested everyone. The story of this ‘Brussels Affair’ is well documented as statements and depositions taken at the time are now kept at the Royal Library in Belgium.

As for the gun, seized by the police, it was given back to its original gunsmith for a ballistic report. It is marked with serial n°14096, which matched Verlaine’s name in the gunsmith’s registry book, later handed to the police station when it closed in 1981.

Though the gun is a bit more unusual than things often sold at an auction, it is estimated to sell for as much as 76,000 Dollars.

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