Ronald Reagan's foundation expressed outrage yesterday at a British company's auction of what it says is a vial of the late US president's blood taken at the hospital where he was treated after a 1981 assassination attempt.
PFC Auctions, a company based in Guernsey, announced on Sunday that it would sell the vial of blood in an online auction set to end on Thursday.
The vial was taken at George Washington University Hospital on 30 March, 1981, after Reagan was wounded by John Hinckley Jr. in Washington, DC, PFC Auctions said on its website. It is said to have come from a person whose late mother had worked at a medical lab.
"If indeed this story is true, it's a craven act and we will use every legal means to stop its sale or purchase," John Heubusch, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, said in a statement.
The website for PFC Auctions said the latest online bid for the vial stood at £6,270. A PFC Auctions representative could not be reached for comment.
The website for PFC Auctions showed a picture of the blood-filled vial with a label stuck to it showing the president's name.
Reagan suffered a punctured lung and internal bleeding when he was shot by Hinckley outside the Washington Hilton Hotel. Hinckley was later found not guilty by reason of insanity. He is allowed to visit his family away from the psychiatric hospital where he is being treated.
Heubusch said his foundation had spoken to the hospital where Reagan was treated and was assured an investigation was under way into "how something like this could possibly happen." A spokesman for the hospital declined to comment.
Also posted on the PFC site was an image of a form from Bio-Science Laboratories that lists George Washington Hospital as the source of the vial, along with a statement from an unnamed person offering the vial for sale.
The seller wrote that the vial came from his or her late mother, who took it from her workplace at Maryland-based Bio-Science Laboratories, where blood work and testing were done for George Washington Hospital.
The seller said he or she had contacted the California-based Ronald Reagan Library and Museum, which is run by the late president's foundation, months ago and had been told that Reagan's family would like to have the vial given to them.
"I told him that I didn't think that was something that I was going to consider ... and that I was a real fan of Reaganomics and felt that President Reagan himself would rather see me sell it rather than donating it," the statement said.
A spokeswoman for the foundation declined to comment on the seller's claim to have spoken to the library.