The Maltese Falcon, a statuette of a bird featuring in the classic 1941 detective thriller, sold for more than $4 million at Bonhams auction house on Monday (November 25, 2013).

Maltese FalconThe Maltese Falcon Sold For $4 Million.

The winning bid of $4,085,000 came from a telephone bidder, according to the Guardian. The recognizable black figure was one of the two known statuettes for the movie, which starred Humphrey Bogart as San Francisco private detective Sam Spade and his dealings with three unscrupulous adventurers, all of whom are competing to obtain a jewel-encrusted falcon statuette.

The black figurine has a Warner Brothers inventory number etched into the base and also bears the name of the movie. In the movie it is described as a "priceless" work of art, which is also the cause of several murders. Read our review of The Maltese Falcon here.

The late movie critic Roger Ebert described The Maltese Falcon as one of the greatest films of all time, and in 1989 it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

The statuette - which was damaged when dropped on the set of the movie - has been exhibited at the Warner Bros. Studio Museum, the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

"The spectacular price achieved reflects the statuette's tremendous significance. The Maltese Falcon is arguably the most important movie prop ever, and is central to the history of cinema," said Dr. Catherine Williamson, the Director of the Entertainment Memorabilia Department at Bonhams in a statement.

The Maltese Falcon now ranks as one of the most expensive pieces of movie or television memorabilia ever sold at auction - though which pulled in the most cash?