The relationship between Van Gogh & Gauguin
There are varying accounts of how Van Gogh really lost his ear. Most art history books agree that a prostitute was involved in one way or another. Recent evidence has unveiled that Van Gogh actually GAVE the severed ear to a prostitute down the street from the house he shared with Gauguin. Coincidentally, on the same day that Gauguin left the residence. Some art historians believe that Van Gogh and Gauguin had a drunken argument (as had become increasingly common) and in the heat of anger, Gauguin grabbed an ornamental sword and swung, severing Van Gogh's ear. Gauguin then fled. Van Gogh wrapped the ear in canvas and stumbled down the street, entered a brothel and gave the "package" to a prostitute he was familiar with.
This bears the question of whether or not Van Gogh and Gauguin were friends, merely peers working together, or experimental lovers. Something broke Gauguin - he was unable to return to his wife and children and sustain a living. He escaped to the tropics where he created his best work but sadly died poor.
The experiment Van Gogh created was similar to the hippy era communes - like minded people living and working together in an environment that is conducive to their productivity. Van Gogh and Gauguin did as much drinking & partying as they did painting. They had differences and arguments almost from the onset of their relationship. Van Gogh wrote repeated letters to Gauguin after he left, but Gauguin was reluctant to respond. Sounds suspiciously like the actions of a scorned lover, doesn't it?
The Gauguin family made numerous efforts over the years to protect the reputation of their artistic ancestor and they had the finances to do just that. Perhaps the truth will never be known, but it is healthy to question all possible aspects.