Van Gogh is said to have cut off a portion of his own ear after a fight with his friend Paul Gauguin. Gauguin had been living with Van Gogh in Arles but decided to go back to Paris, which greatly distressed Van Gogh.
Van Gogh and Gauguin painted together for nine weeks in Arles but their time together was not happy. When Gauguin told Van Gogh he was leaving for good, the two had a heated argument. Later that night Van Gogh is said to have cut his lower left earlobe off with a razor. He then wrapped it in newspaper and gave it to a prostitute. She alerted authorities and they found Van Gogh the next morning. He almost bled to death. Another theory, with some evidence, says that Van Gogh did not actually cut off his own ear, but that it was done by Gauguin during the course of their final fight.