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World's largest cat painting sells for $826,000 in New York

By Ben Hooper Contact the Author   |   Nov. 4, 2015 at 9:32 AM

A photo posted by Sotheby's (@sothebys) on

NEW YORK, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- A work of art believed to be the world's largest painting of cats -- featuring 42 felines on a 75-inch-by-102-inch canvas -- sold for $826,000 in New York.

Sotheby's in New York announced the painting, My Wife's Lovers by Austrian artist Carl Kahler, sold Monday morning for the staggering sum after first going on display Friday at the auction house on a wall specially constructed for the oversized piece.

Polly Sartori, head of 19th century European paintings for Sotheby's in New York, said Kahler had traveled to the West Coast of the United States in 1881 and he encountered art collector Kate Johnson in San Francisco.

"He was invited to her cat ranch. Now, Mrs. Johnson actually was very wealthy. She was a millionaire and she had this giant mansion. Some newspapers report that she had 350 [cats]. So Carl Kahler meets Mrs. Johnson at the ranch, at the mansion, and she asks him if he would paint a portrait of her cats," Sartori told CBC News. "So, for three years he spends time with the cats in the mansion doing sketches. And then in and around 1893, he does their portrait. He takes all of the sketches and he puts together this monumental-sized giant painting of 42 of her cats."

Sartori said Kahler likely sketched the cats individually before working on the painting.

"No way did 42 cats sit still to have their portrait painted," she said.

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