A mystery art collector paid over $826,000 for a piece of art that’s been called the largest and most expensive cat painting ever.
Just how large? Well, Sotheby’s had to build a special wall to display the 227-pound 6-by-8.5 foot meowsterpiece.
“My Wife’s Lovers”, a 19th Century work by Austrian artist Carl Kahler, was originally estimated to fetch between $200,000-$300,000 US. But, as we know, cat lovers are fierce creatures, which explains why the painting exceeded Sotheby’s expectations by over half a million dollars.
The art work features 42 of Kate Birdsall Johnson’s 350 cats, which she kept at her 3,000-acre summer residence in Buena Vista, California. Kahler, who had never painted a cat before, was invited to the cat ranch by Johnson and spent three years sketching the feline friends, learning their personalities and habits.
If you’re thinking what we’re thinking, Polly Sartori, the head of 19th century European paintings for Sotheby’s in New York, told CBC News: “No way did 42 cats sit still to have their portrait painted.”
Apparently each cat had a name, including the top cat at the center of the work — Sultan — a $3000 feline Johnson bought during a trip to Paris. (As you could probably tell, Johnson didn’t own any alley cats — all of her felines were Persian and Angoras.)
Johnson loved her cats so much that when she passed away in 1893 — two years after the painting was completed — she set aside $500,000 to ensure her cats were well taken care of.
The painting is just another reminder that it’s always been a cat’s world — we’re barely living in it.