Here, Kitty, Kitty: Cat Painting Fetches $826,000 at Auction

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Well before YouTube beamed cute cat images across the globe, there was this one-of-a-kind work.

The world’s largest cat painting now has the distinction of being the most expensive cat painting ever sold.

The 200-pound, 6-foot by 8-foot painting, entitled “My Wife’s Lovers,” was recently auctioned off at Sotheby’s in New York for $826,000, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The painting, which was valued between $200,000 and $300,000, was purchased by an anonymous buyer who apparently has a thing for felines.

The 1893 painting is the work of Austrian artist Carl Kahler, who despite never having painted a cat before, was commissioned by San Francisco millionaire and cat enthusiast Kate Birdsall Johnson in 1891 to paint 42 of her favorite felines.

Kahler spend three years sketching Johnson’s cats before committing them to canvas.

According to Sotheby’s, Johnson kept about 350 cats on her 3,000-acre summer residence near Sonoma, California.

There, her pets were cared for by a troop of servants, hired specifically for this purpose, and entertained by parrots and cockatoos, which coexisted with the feline community in the Johnson mansion. Each cat had a name and recognized that name when called.

Johnson’s love of cats lived on after her death, the Smithsonian reports. Rumors have it that Johnson set aside $500,000 in her will so that her cats could live in luxury after she passed away.

According to The Chronicle, during its 122-year-old lifetime, the cat painting survived an earthquake and the infamous fire of 1906. It’s also toured the United States and been displayed at the World’s Fair in Chicago.

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