So why all the fuss?
Some experts speculate that the man is pursuing a "long-term strategy" and, in doing so, is bargaining as if he were at a bazaar. "First he makes the biggest possible demands, to intimidate the museums," says Loeben, "hoping that he will at least receive the masterworks on loan for the dedication of his big new museum."
But will the plan work? A huge tug-of-war is currently underway behind the scenes. "Without a bilateral national treaty," says a spokeswoman from Hildesheim, "we won't lend him anything. We don't trust the man."
In return, he says sharply: "We are not the Pirates of the Caribbean." This tone will likely characterize the debate into the future, and an agreement is not in sight.
But even if he fails, Hawass will probably get over it. He has already achieved his main objective: fame.
Nowadays, when the gray-haired antiquities director drives up the dusty road to the pyramids, where he began his career almost 40 years ago, his employees stand at attention and salute.
At such moments, the heart of this farmer's son is filled with joy. He smiles, in the knowledge that he has made it.
"No one in Egypt who comes from an ordinary family is revered as much as I am."
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan