Press release | 16 September 2021 | pp

Bénédicte Savoy Among TIME's 100 Most Influential People

Together with Felwine Sarr, the art historian is being honored for her fundamental influence on the worldwide restitution debate regarding the return of stolen artifacts

The US magazine TIME has named art historian Professor Bénédicte Savoy, head of the TU Berlin Chair of Modern Art History, one of its 100 most influential people in 2021. Together with her colleague, Professor Felwine Sarr, she appears on the TIME 100 2021 list, available online on 15 September 2021 The list, which has been published 18 years running, honors the impact, innovation, and achievements of the most influential people in the world.

Savoy has worked extensively in the field of provenance research, speaking in favor of providing information about the provenance of art treasures in European museums and exhibitions, particularly those which were brought to Europe during the colonial era. In 2017, she brought this debate to the public's attention when she resigned from the prestigious advisory board of the Humboldt Forum, criticizing the lack of transparency of the permanent ethnological exhibitions planned for the Berlin Humboldt Forum.

Restitution report commissioned by president of France Emmanuel Macron

She created an international stir in 2018 when she was commissioned by president of France Emmanuel Macron to conduct research together with the Senegalese professor of economics Dr. Felwine Sarr into how art and cultural treasures from European colonies made their way into French museums. This research produced the high-profile report “Rapport sur la restitution du patrimoine culturel africain. Vers une nouvelle éthique relationelle,” published in English under the title "The Restitution of African Cultural Heritage. Toward a New Relational Ethics," which recommended the immediate return of the majority of objects. Emmanuel Macron then became the first European president to promise to initiate measures for restitution, thus recognizing a moral right of African states in particular to the restitution of cultural property. Download the report in the original French and translated English here.

Other accolades and honors

In addition to her professorship at TU Berlin, Bénédicte Savoy also held an international professorship for cultural history of artistic heritage in Europe, 18th - 20th century at the Collège de France in Paris from 2016 to mid-2021. She is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and among other awards, received the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, the most prestigious and lucrative academic accolade in Germany, with which she has since been able to initiate and carry out major research projects on the subject. In addition to several other awards and honors, she, together with Felwine Sarr, was also already included in British art magazine Art Review's list of the 100 most influential personalities on current art, Power 100, in 2019 and 2020.


Film and print portraits of TIME 100 2021 list

The complete list of this year's TIME 100 influential people as well as individual portraits will be published in a double September/October issue of TIME beginning 17 September 2021. The articles are already available online. TIME will also be presenting the award recipients in a one-hour film special to be aired by US broadcaster ABC on 20 September 2021, 22:00 EST (Eastern Standard Time, 16:00 Central European Time).


Prof. Dr.

Bénédicte Savoy