Press release | 20 September 2022 | pp

International Commitment to the Restitution of Cultural Property

TU Berlin art historian Bénédicte Savoy receives the Deutscher Kulturpolitikpreis for her long-term commitment and research in the area of the restitution of stolen art

The German Cultural Council (Deutscher Kulturrat), the umbrella organization of German cultural associations, has awarded the Deutscher Kulturpolitikpreis to Professor Bénédicte Savoy in recognition of her extraordinary contribution to research of the history of European museums and the restitution colonial stolen art. Leibniz Prize winner Bénédicte Savoy is head of the Chair of Modern Art History at TU Berlin. The Deutscher Kulturpolitikpreis (previously Kulturgroschen) has been awarded since 1992 and recognizes special achievements of outstanding and long-term significance for cultural policy. The award ceremony will take place in Berlin on 21 September 2022.

The award recognizes the extraordinary academic and cultural-political commitment shown by Bénédicte Savoy regarding stolen art and the restitution of cultural property. “The issues of art theft and the handling of looted art permeate the academic life of Professor Dr. Bénédicte Savoy. Her outstanding achievement is her emphatic commitment to the restitution of collections from colonial contexts at home and abroad. This commitment is groundbreaking”, said the German Cultural Council of its decision to award the prize to Bénédicte Savoy. She joins a distinguished list of prizewinners, which includes former federal president Johannes Rau, former presidents of the Bundestag Wolfgang Thierse and Rita Süssmuth, as well as cultural figures such as general music director of the Berlin State Opera Daniel Barenboim and the influential author Juli Zeh.

The prize will be awarded to Bénédicte Savoy on 21 September 2022 in the Wilhelm von Humboldt-Saal of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. The laudation will be given by president of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Professor Dr. Christoph Markschies. You can find out more about the event and how to attend at

Bénédicte Savoy

Professor Dr. Bénédicte Savoy is professor of modern art at TU Berlin and a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities as well as one of the world’s most renowned art historians. The prizes and honors she has been awarded include the 2016 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, Germany’s most highly endowed research award.  This has since enabled her to initiate and carry out major research projects on the provenance of artworks as well as publish further findings. In June of this year, she was awarded the Great Franco-German Media Prize 2022, one of Europe’s most prestigious media awards. In 2021, TIME magazine named her one of the 100 most influential persons in the world. In 2018, translocation expert Savoy and the Senegalese academic Professor Dr. Felwine Sarr were commissioned by French president Emmanuel Macron to examine the origins of artworks from former colonies as well as Europe’s approach to and treatment of these works.  This led to the publication of the report Rapport sur la restitution du patrimoine culturel africain. Vers une nouvelle éthique relationnelle. As a result, France became the first European state to return objects to the Republic of Benin. The 26 items returned include monumental statues from the Royal Palaces of Abomey. Due to this research as well as the debates initiated by Bénédicte Savoy, including regarding the concept for the Humboldt Forum, negotiations are now taking place in Germany for the restitution of important stolen artworks, especially with Nigeria.

Find out more about Bénédicte Savoy and her research (selection):


Prof. Dr.

Benedicte Savoy

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