Vincent van Gogh was not as he seems.
In 1888, at the age of 35, Van Gogh was looking to create something unique in art for the upcoming exhibition at the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris. Over that summer, he created a persona to murder by. He named it Jack the Ripper—revealing this to the people of London through threatening letters he sent to the police and newspapers. Acting on his fantasies, Vincent traveled to London again and again to kill as Jack the Ripper. He reaped a sense of power from the murders and turned the blood he spilled into paint, gaining the uniqueness in art he was after.
But Vincent was a murderer long before he transformed into Jack the Ripper. He made his first kill fifteen years prior in 1873 when, at the age of 20, full of ambition, he was transferred to London from Holland in May by Goupil’s, the art dealer he worked for. It was believed he first lived in the Battersea area. He then moved to nearby Brixton in August. On September 5, just five days before his mother’s September 10 birthday, the body parts of an unidentified woman were discovered floating in the River Thames. The police concluded the pieces were thrown in at Battersea. Vincent had moved and then had murdered.
Nine months later, in the throes of being rejected by his landlady’s 19-year-old daughter, Vincent killed again. This time, only the lower half of a woman’s body was found in the Thames. Vincent had been rejected and then had murdered.
During the years that followed, Vincent gave up on being an art dealer to become a preacher, like his father. But after several attempts at this failed, he turned to painting. His younger brother, Theo, then began to support him financially (which he continued faithfully for ten years). Vincent moved back home to Holland with his parents, but he was thrown out later by his father on Christmas day, due to trouble he had created by doggedly declaring his love (which was not returned) for his widowed cousin. Then in 1885, after Vincent had moved back home yet again, his preacher father was subsequently found dead one fine Sunday on the threshold of his home.
Because of the relentless arguing with his father, Vincent’s sisters and others blamed him indirectly for their father’s sudden and unexpected death. But the evidence shows Vincent was more directly responsible, and that, in fact, he had laid hands on his preacher father and had killed him. He was already an established serial killer, after all.
Vincent then invited himself into Theo’s apartment in Paris in March 1886. But Theo had a problem. An ex-girlfriend was living in his apartment who wouldn’t move out. She was referred to only as S. When Theo took a trip back to Holland later that year and wrote to Vincent that either she moves out or he will, Vincent wrote back and offered to take S. off Theo’s hands, even joking he would marry her if necessary. During the time Theo was away, the body parts of an unidentified woman were found deposited in street urinals in Paris. Vincent had solved the S. problem.
Recognizing murder was like a muse to him for his paintings, Vincent then made a clandestine trip back to London from Paris in 1887 for another murder. Just as with his first two murders in London, the woman’s body parts were found floating in the Thames.
It was then in February 1888 that Vincent moved to the South of France seeking something unique for the upcoming World’s Fair in Paris. He knew he would have to murder to get that uniqueness in his paintings, and from August to December, Vincent made trips to London to kill seven women under the guise of his created persona, Jack the Ripper. He also killed another woman for his mother’s birthday using his previous method, making the total he killed in the year of the eights to be 8. During this same time, Vincent painted feverishly.
It was at the end of this flurry of murdering and painting that Vincent then cut off his ear in December of 1888. He was in and out of the hospital at the beginning of 1889 before willingly committing himself (at Theo’s expense) to a nearby asylum. He eventually cajoled the asylum director into allowing him to go out into the country to paint for several days at a time, and as soon as he had obtained this privilege, Vincent used it to travel back to London to kill three more women in 1889— one acting as Jack the Ripper, and two more acting as what became known as the Torso Killer.
In 1890, Vincent moved to Auvers to be closer to Theo in Paris. He hoped this would keep Theo paying his finances after Theo’s wife gave birth to their first child. But Theo threatened to pull his support, so Vincent shot himself in the stomach and died on July 29, 1890, with Theo by his side. Theo then lost his mind from overwhelming grief and guilt and died six months later—showing the manipulative power Vincent possessed over his caring brother’s life.
Vincent van Gogh was Jack the Ripper!