Lawrence of Arabia mementoes fetch £264,000

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The compass which helped to create the legend of Lawrence of Arabia, steering him across the desert on a camel during the Arab revolt against the Turks in 1916-18, was sold yesterday for £264,000 [about US$500,000], together with a cheap watch and an inscribed cigarette case.

The startling price at the Christie's auction - paid by an anonymous telephone bidder, vastly over a top pre-sale estimate of £16,000 - was testament to the world's enduring fascination with a slight, awkward man, who died in a motorcycle crash in 1935, aged 46.

His immortality was ensured by his book, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, more often admired than read cover to cover, and by a film made long after his death - David Lean's 1962 Lawrence of Arabia, with Peter O'Toole.

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