Ronald Reagan's foundation today denounced the sale by a Channel Islands online auction house of a vial that allegedly contains blood residue from the late U.S. president.
The PFCAuctions house said the blood vial being auctioned was used by the laboratory that tested Reagan's blood when he was hospitalized after a 1981 assassination attempt in Washington.
The plan has provoked an angry response from John Heubusch, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.
"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 in a statement. "We've spoken to GW (George Washington) Hospital and are assured an investigation as to how something like this could possibly happen is underway.
"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," he said.
The auction house says the Bio Science Laboratory in Columbia, Maryland, is the source of the blood. The blood is being sold by a man whose late mother took it from the laboratory with permission weeks after the tests were made, auction house spokeswoman Kylie Whitehead told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The auction house says the seller claimed he was a supporter of Reagan's conservative economic policies and believes the late president would have wanted him to sell the vial rather than donate it.
Bidding for the vial had passed the 7,000-pound ($11,000) mark Tuesday. The auction closes on Thursday.
Reagan required emergency surgery after he was shot by John Hinckley Jr. outside the Washington Hilton Hotel.
The Channel Islands are located between England and France.
Robert Jablon in Los Angeles contributed to this story.