When artist Carl Kahler moved to the United States in 1881 he intended to paint the landscapes of Yosemite National Park. Instead he met millionaire art collector Kate Johnson. Johnson didn’t just have a large art collection and a mansion. She also reportedly had 350 cats.
Johnson invited Kahler to her ranch and asked him to paint a portrait of her cats.
Polly Sartori, head of 19th century European paintings at Sotheby’s New York, told CBC, “[F]or 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… No way did 42 cats sit still to have their portrait painted.”
The painting, called My Wife’s Lovers, ended up being 6 feet by 8.5 feet and so heavy that Sotheby’s had to build a special wall to display it, CBC reports. My Wife’s Lovers went to auction at Sotheby’s and was estimated to bring in $200,000 to $300,000. It sold Tuesday morning for $826,000.
Would you spend that much on a cat painting?