Brigitte Kruse, founder of the Los Angeles-based Kruse GWS Auctions, was recently knighted by the Medici family in Italy.
Principe Lorenzo de’ Medici conferred on Kruse the title of Cavaliere— the Italian equivalent of an English knighthood—and as an additional honour and distinction, named her an “Ambasciatore delle Arti” (Ambassador of the Arts). The dual accolades recognised Kruse’s work globally on behalf of charitable causes.
Her auction house specialises in royal artefacts, Hollywood memorabilia, fine jewellery, luxury timepieces, and affluent estates, and Kruse is the first woman auctioneer to hold a Guinness World Record (for “Largest Abandoned Property Auction in World History”).
Their most recent royal auction piece was sold earlier this month, with a 14th-century Celadon Lotus Bowl originating from the estate of the last Empress of Vietnam selling for $1.5 million.
The knighting took place at Rome’s historic San Silvestro al Quirinale, whose origins date back to the 11th century. Church clerics and Principe Lorenzo de’ Medici presided over the ceremony.
As part of the proceedings, Kruse read an oath where she promised to continue to give back and to uphold the highest standards. During the ceremony, she was anointed with the blade of a ceremonial sword and then adorned with the knight’s robe.
To earn this honour, Kruse had to first be nominated by a member of the de’ Medici family and then win approval from the rest of the House of Medici and the Cavaliere board. Kruse was selected for her distinguished reputation in the auction industry and having represented 16 royal families in her business.
A fierce advocate for children with autism, she has raised millions of dollars to provide services and research. Along with her husband Mike Sislyan, Kruse regularly visits orphanages for disabled children in high conflict zones around the world, delivering food, toys, medications, and clothing.
As a part of her responsibilities and oath to the Cavaliere, Kruse will feed the homeless with the Pope each year in Rome during the Christmas season.
“I am beyond humbled by such an honour,” Kruse said. “The de’ Medici royal family bestowed a monumental honour upon me and for that, I will always be thankful. I am so very privileged to do the work I do and to be recognised in such a magnificent ceremony and accolade in Rome was a moment I will truly never forget.”