Auction of Ronald Reagan blood vial cancelled

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An auction house on Thursday cancelled the sale of a vial containing dried blood residue said to be from Ronald Reagan, announcing that the seller will instead donate the item to the late U.S. president's foundation.

The PFC Auction house, which is based in the Channel Islands between England and France, said in a statement that the seller had obtained the vial legally at a U.S. auction earlier this year but had decided against proceeding with Thursday's auction.

The decision not to sell the controversial item linked to the 1981 assassination attempt on the former president was praised by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation in California.

"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 of the foundation.

He said he was pleased the late president's blood will be kept "out of public hands."

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.

"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," Heubusch said.

Reagan's family, his foundation and his surgeon had earlier this week criticized the proposed sale.

Online bidding on the item had reached about $30,000 when the sale was suspended. It had been set to conclude Thursday evening.