About Author

I. Kaufman Arenberg, MD

I. Kaufman Arenberg MD (ika@killingvincent.com) has studied and written about Vincent for over thirty years, and he never believed the nineteenth-century legend that the artist committed suicide.

Now, he puts forth a different side of the story, one bolstered by new, twenty-first-century forensic evidence. In Killing Vincent: The Man, the Myth, and the Murder, Arenberg strips back the layers of misunderstanding surrounding Vincent’s final days to determine once and for all if the painter really shot himself—or if he was murdered.

About The Author

Being Vincent Van Gogh’s “Ear Doctor”

Killing Vincent is meant as a historical analysis and exposé, attempting to continue exploring the key questions that TIME magazine asked in its October 31, 2011, cover story: “Who killed Vincent van Gogh?” and “Was van Gogh’s death really a suicide?” on the “Culture” Cover. I have attempted to answer both questions. This work is not meant as an academic treatise or dissertation, with every observation, thought, and detail requiring documentation. It is only an attempt as an expose’, to seek the truth of what really happened on the day Vincent van Gogh was mortally wounded, and to best connect all the missing “dots”. In the process, I will try to fit the best murder scenario into what little is really accepted, and why he was murdered… significantly changing art history

How Is It That Dr. Arenberg Was the, De Facto, Ear Doc for Long Dead Vincent van Gogh?

(See JAMA, July 1990-Photo JAMA cover/appendix). I was Vincent’s ear doc in the sense that I read all of his 760 extant letters and used his, almost daily writings as if I was taking a medical history from him. He often wrote about how he was feeling, or what medical problems he was having. So, I made the diagnosis of Meniere’s disease from his handwritten clinical history describing his “attacks” as “vertige” provided. This was his own written description of his recurrent, intermittent malady. Thus, I was, diagnostically at least, in effect, “his ear doctor”.


Dr. Arenberg was involved in making the diagnosis of Meniere’s disease and not epilepsy in Vincent van Gogh in 1990 to account for his violent “attacks” and hallucinations. He was an ear doctor and a distinguished ear surgeon and Neurotologist. He was an innovator in his field of inner ear surgery for Meniere’s disease with several medical devices/instruments bearing his name. He also had 12 US/International patents issued. He was an internationally recognized expert in inner ear hearing and balance diseases. Meniere’s disease, endolymphatic hydrops(ELH) and Electrocochleography (ECoG) for diagnostic and intra-operative monitoring of Meniere’s Disease and endolymphatic hydrops (ELH) surgery were of very special interest and focus during his medical career. He also co-innovated the ECoG inner ear intra-operative monitoring for surgical management of Meniere’s disease and endolymphatic hydrops. He created IntraEARÔ, Inc, a medical device drug delivery system entrepreneurial endeavor utilizing three of his own patents. IntraEARÔ, Inc was subsequently sold in 2000 (with a 3X profit for investors) to a Silicon Valley Pharma, before moving to NY for 10 years. In NY, he started a boutique Precious metal hedge fund. In this 3rd major career change, he was the portfolio manager. His fund resulted in a 10-year trading track record with a compound annual return in excess of 80% per year. This was achieved by aggressively trading options, futures as well as all mining stocks and Canadian junior exploration mining companies. He has retired and now devotes his time and efforts to his family, his German Shepherd, writing of several non-medical books, the arts, and non-profits.

Dr. Arenberg was, on the boards of seven peer reviewed medical journals and was made associate editor of the AMA Archives of Otolaryngology in 1968 during his residency. He has edited six books. He has published over 100 articles in peer reviewed journals as well as published and/or presented over 500 other abstracts, papers/book chapters on ear disease, hearing, balance, and tinnitus, ECoG, and specifically Meniere’s Disease in major journals and/or at national and international meetings. He has lectured extensively in many countries, in North and South America and extensively in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia and was the visiting Professor at many distinguished medical schools/teaching hospitals around the world; Japan, Korea, Republic of China, Hong Kong, Italy, Austria, France, UK, Israel, Australia, and New Zealand. He has started and ran 3 (501-C3) non-profit organizations; The International Meniere’s Disease Research Institute (IMDRI) and the Prosper Meniere Society (PMS), The Colorado Otologic Research Center (CORC). He was a member of many national and international societies focused on these interests in the inner ear, clinical and basic science research with a special focus on Meniere’s disease.

Major Accomplishments

He received the highest award (a special Teacher-Investigators Traineeship Award) from National Institute of Health (NIH) while a resident (Only 5/year granted in 1973). He was also a Fellow in Otology-Neurotology, and NIH Special Teacher Investigator Trainee (NINDSC) and Visiting Scientist and Fellow of the Swedish Medical Research Council doing Clinical Meniere’s Disease Research at the Royal Academic Hospital (Akademiska Sjukhuset), University of Uppsala Medical School ( Orenkliniken), Uppsala, SWEDEN.

He also received several distinguished international awards including 3 gold medals; one The Pietro Calicetti Gold Medal Award from the University of Bologna, Bologna, ITALY, the second, The Gold Medal Honor Award for Meniere’s Disease Research from the ORL Congress, REPUBLIC OF CHINA, and the third, the Gold medal honor award winner for 2006, 25th Anniversary meeting of the Prosper Meniere Society in AUSTRIA, (which he founded in 1981).

Dr. Arenberg Has Received Three International Gold Medal Honor Awards for His Previous Publications

  • The Pietro Calicetti Gold medal Award from the University of Bologna, ITALY 1984
  • Gold Meal Honor Award from OSROC, Taipei, CHINA, 1987
  • Gold Medal Honor Award for Lifetime Acheivement, The Prosper Meniere Society, Zell, AUSTRIA
  • And several other international awards, as well over the years…but no medals.

Acknowledgement From An Old Colleague & Friend

Gary D. Vander Ark, M.D.

Distinguished Clinical Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver

My association with Irv Arenberg extends back about fifty years, to when I was the Chief Resident in Neurosurgery at the University of Michigan and he was a medical student. In the ensuing years, our career paths often intertwined as I continued working in neurosurgery and he embarked on a specialty in neuro-otology (neurological disorders and surgery of the inner ear).

Given our decades as friends and colleagues, I can vouch for the fact that Irv has had a burning interest in Vincent van Gogh’s life for the last thirty years. He became an expert on the artist’s medical condition, publishing several articles on the subject that were well received by the international medical community. His distinguished medical career and lifelong study of van Gogh have given him a unique expertise on the artist’s physical and mental health, which led him to make an initial diagnosis, in 1990, that van Gogh had not epilepsy (as was commonly proposed) but Meniere’s disease, an inner-ear problem that causes bouts of vertigo, hallucinations of motion, and ringing in the ears.

Irv never believed that van Gogh committed suicide. In this book, he goes back to the beginning of the tale of the artist’s death—which has long been littered with misinformation and suspicions of foul play—to tell his own version based not in conjecture but in facts and science. He sheds new light on the narrative with his personal diagnosis, combined with the benefits of modern forensic reconstruction.

It is with great collegial respect and admiration for Irv’s work that I introduce Killing Vincent, where he can finally lay out the stories, evidence, and hypotheses that have long preoccupied him. I find this ongoing exploration of van Gogh’s life, his medical issues, and now his death to be thoroughly fascinating. Although this book raises many more questions about the death of van Gogh than it answers, it provides a wonderful service by once and forever killing the idea that van Gogh committed suicide and offering a much more logical possibility for the end of Vincent’s life.