"Have you any conception of the extreme, the immeasurable, wealth of the Order at that time?"
"If I remember," Spade said, "they were pretty well fixed."
Gutman smiled indulgently. "Pretty well, sir, is putting it mildly." His whisper became lower and more purring. "They were rolling in wealth, sir. You've no idea. None of us has any idea. For years they had prey on the Saracens, had taken nobody knows what spoils of gems, precious metals, silks, ivories—the cream of the cream of the East. That is history, sir. We all know that the Holy Wars to them, as to the Templars, were largely a matter of loot." (13.21)
When Gutman narrates the history of the Maltese falcon to Spade, we learn that it is a story of human greed and the ruthless amassing of immeasurable wealth. The Order is described as "rolling in wealth" from all the loot they accumulated during the Holy Wars. This statuette of the Maltese falcon arose out of this history of plundered treasure, and becomes the ultimate symbol of greed.