Ronald Reagan center takes legal action over blood sale
The seller of the blood maintains that the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation was contacted earlier in the year to see if they wanted possession of the vial.
Tue, May 22, 2012 at 06:24 PM
LOS ANGELES — The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation said on May 22 it is taking legal action to stop an online auction of a vial said to contain the late U.S. president's blood, condemning the sale as "craven."
The foundation's executive director John Heubusch voiced outrage over the sale of the blood — dating from the 1981 assassination attempt on Reagan — by an auction house based on Guernsey, in the British Channel Islands.
"If indeed this story is true, it's a craven act and we will use every legal means to stop its sale or purchase," he said, adding that he had questioned the Washington, D.C. hospital where Reagan was rushed on March 30, 1981.
"We've spoken to GW (George Washington) Hospital and are assured an investigation as to how something like this could possibly happen is under way," he said in a statement issued by the California-based center.
In an update later on May 22, spokeswoman Melissa Giller said: "The Reagan Foundation is actively pursuing legal matters against both the seller and the auctioneer."
The five inch long, half-inch diameter vial is being sold by PFC Auctions, which noted that "dried blood residue from President Reagan (1911-2004) can be seen clearly" in a quarter-inch ring at the end of the rubber stopper.
The vial was accompanied by a laboratory report and a letter from the seller — who claims he offered it to the Reagan National Library, but was turned down.
"These articles have actually been in my family's possession since 03/30/1981, the day that President Reagan was shot," said the seller, adding that his mother worked for the laboratory which tested the blood.
"The testing was completed and the test tube was sitting on my mother's desk. At the end of the week, she asked the director of her laboratory if she could keep the paper work and the test tube.
"The director of the lab told her no problem and really never gave it a second thought. It has been in my family ever since."
Then, about three or four months ago, the seller said he contacted the Reagan National Library and spoke with its chief, a federal agent, who told him he had to make a few calls to check what to do.
"He called back in 25 minutes and said that everything was ok, National Archives was not interested in what I had, nor was the Secret Service, the FBI and other agencies.
"Since 30 years had passed by, he thought that it was simply something that was of no importance at this time and that I was free to do with whatever I wanted with it."
The Foundation did not comment on exactly who the seller might have spoken to at the Foundation and Library, which is based in Simi Valley, north of Los Angeles.
But the Foundation executive director said there was no excuse for selling the blood of Reagan, the former California governor and 40th president of the United States, who died in June, 2004.
"Any individual, including a president of the United States, should feel confident that once they enter into the care of a medical system their privacy and rights are held inviolable," said Heubusch.
Nancy Reagan, who is 90, has so far made no comment on the forthcoming legal battle, a spokeswoman said.
As of late May 22, the highest bid for the vial was $14,475. The auction is due to end on Thursday, May 24 at 1900 GMT (1400 EST), it said.
Copyright 2012 AFP Global Edition