Ronald Reagan's blood for sale: would you buy?

Ronald Reagan/AP/Press Association Images

A vial of what is said to be Ronald Reagan's blood has gone on sale at an online auction house. It has sparked controversy - not least from his family - but bidding this morning reached £9,181.

So what is the attraction of such a strange sale, and would you be tempted?

The sale

The auction, on describes the glass vial with "Dried blood residue from President Reagan." It is labelled with details of the president's name, the hospital where he had the blood taken, and the doctor attending. There is also a green form from the laboratory with similar details of the patient.

Finally, there is a letter outlining where the vial came from. It says: "These articles have actually been in my family's possession since 03/30/1981, the day that President Reagan was shot in Washington D.C. Back in the 70's and 80's, my mother worked for Bio Science Laboratories in Columbia, Maryland. Her laboratory was the laboratory contracted by Walter Reed Army Medical Center as well as the George Washington University Hospital to handle blood testing as well as other types of testing. Her lab did the blood work and testing for President Reagan. The test tube and the lab slip that I have are for his blood work to be tested for lead on [Monday] 03/30/1981.

"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."

The letter also claimed the owner had contacted the National Archives to sell it to them and says: "National Archives was not interested in what I had, nor was the Secret Service, the FBI and other agencies." The family was interested in having it returned, but the seller said: "I was a real fan of Reaganomics and felt that Pres. Reagan himself would rather see me sell it rather than donating it."

John Heubusch, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation released a statement saying: "If indeed this story is true, it's a craven act and we will use every legal means to stop its sale or purchase."

Not the first

This is far from the only unusual human remains to go to auction. The site itself is currently selling locks of hair from the likes of Justin Beiber, Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley. At the moment, only the Elvis lot has received bids, and is going for £287. Meanwhile a piece of George Washington's hair and a sliver of his coat have reached £1,381.

Those with a macabre history have been known to sell well in the past. A few months ago the hearse that carried John F. Kennedy's body to Air Force One in 1963 fetched $160,000 at auction.

And presidents are a big draw. Christies recently sold a page from George Washington's inaugural speech for $182,000. Jamie Breese, antiques and collectibles broadcaster and expert told AOL it is hard to know what will happen to the price of this sort of thing in future. However, he says: "Historical figures such as presidents and politicians do hold their value better than a one hit wonder."

Is it worth it?

The only measure of value is what someone is willing to pay. In the case of Reagan's blood, there are four bidders competing against one another for the item, which is pushing up the price. The lot will expire just after 11am tomorrow.

A spokesperson from Christies was not convinced. She said: "There are people who collect these weird and wonderful things, but it begs the question of how you would prove the provenance of something like this." She added: "I am not sure this sort of thing would hold its value because when you have sold it once, the novelty value wears off."
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