Giant 19th century painting of cat lady’s 42 felines sells for nearly $1 million BY Meg Wagner NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Updated: Wednesday, November 4, 2015, 10:49 AM A A A Share this URL Sotheyb's "My Wife's Lovers," a 1890's painting of 42 of millionaire Kate Johnson's 350 cats, sold for more than $800,000 Tuesday. An enormous painting of 42 spoiled cats commissioned by their exuberant owner fetched nearly $1 million at auction. "My Wife's Lovers" — an oversized 19th century painting by Austrian artist Carl Kahler — sold for $826,000 at a Tuesday auction at Sotheby's. The work, commissioned by San Francisco art collector and cat lady Kate Birdsall Johnson, features just a few dozen of her 350 felines. The millionaire cat enthusiast hired Kahler in 1891, 10 years after he moved from Australia to the U.S., to immortalize her kitties on canvas. But the artist, revered for his race horse works, had never painted felines before. Kahler spent years sketching the cats around Johnson's mansion in preparation for the monumental work. Around 1893, he compiled the cats and transitioned to the canvas. "No way did 42 cats sit still to have their portrait painted," Polly Sartori of Sotheby's told CBC News of the assembling. Each cat, depicted on a luxurious back drop of ornate furniture and draped silk, has a different expression, depicting his or her personality. "No alley cats here," she said. The final work, which weighed a whopping 227 pounds and came in at 6-by-8.5 feet, is believed to be the biggest painting of cats ever. The auction house did not identify the Tuesday bidder.