An auction house announced Thursday that it plans to donate a vial containing dried blood residue said to be from President Ronald Reagan to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation instead of selling the item.
The vial had been taken from a laboratory that tested Reagan's blood for lead in the days after he was seriously wounded by a would-be assassin in 1981. In a statement, the auction house said "we have negotiated with the consignor to arrange for the item to be withdrawn from the auction and donated to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, a considerable financial gesture from the consignor."
Bidding for the items on the PFC Auctions website was at $30,086 when the item was pulled, according to the company. The bid deadline was set for Thursday evening.
After it was removed from the laboratory by someone who worked at the lab, the vial was obtained during a February auction in the United States. The lot description said the vial holds a "sample of President Ronald Reagan’s blood after an assassination attempt in 1981."
Officials with the Reagan Foundation in Simi Valley said they were pleased the vial would be kept "out of public hands." Earlier this week, the foundation's executive director called the auction a "craven act."
Reagan's family and his surgeon also criticized the proposed sale.
"We are very pleased with this outcome and wish to thank the consignor and PFC Auctions for their assistance in this matter," said John Heubusch, executive director for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. "While we contend that the removal of the vial from the hospital laboratory and the U.S. auction sale in February 2012 were not legal acts in our opinion, we are grateful to the current custodian of the vial for this generous donation to the Foundation Ensuring President Reagan’s blood remains out of public hands."
The consignor, a collector of presidential memorabilia who asked to remain anonymous, purchased the vial for $3,550 at the February auction.
"I just don't think people should profit from it," said Joseph Maddalena, of Profile in History Auction House in LA. "I would never do it. It's kind of poor taste. Selling somebody's blood? It's a little creepy."