Elvis Presley's '68 Comeback Special Hagstrom Viking II is hitting the auction block

Rock and roll musician Elvis Presley performing on the Elvis comeback TV special on June 27, 1968 in Burbank, California.
(Image credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Elvis Presley’s 1942 Martin D-18 acoustic guitar may have recently sold for $1.32 million, but fear not – another of the King’s axes, this one his cherry-red Hagstrom Viking II electric guitar, famous for its use in the legendary '68 Comeback Special, is hitting the block.

The semi hollow instrument is a highlight of Kruse GWS Auctions’ Artifacts of Hollywood & Music auction, which begins on March 27. It's being offered with a starting bid of $250,000.

The ‘68 Comeback Special marked Elvis' return to live performance after seven years spent focused on acting in Hollywood films. The televised concert, which launched Presley's return to live touring, featured him playing the Hagstrom for the opening segment as well as during one of the live "stand-up" segments. 

The Hagstrom belonged to musician Al Casey, a member of Elvis’ backing band during the special. According to an accompanying letter from Casey, he was asked to let Elvis use the guitar by the producers, as they "thought it would look beautiful on camera and with the set."

Elvis is also pictured with the Hagstrom on the cover of the 1969 album, From Elvis in Memphis, and it was included in a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame exhibition.

The Hagstrom comes with a notarized letter of authenticity from Al Casey, a second letter of authenticity from Casey, a notarized statement from Hal Blaine, the drummer on the ‘68 Comeback Special, and a letter from the show’s music producer, Bones Howe.

The lot also includes several photographs of Elvis during the filming of the special, including three negatives, and various loan paperwork from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

For more information or to bid, head to GWS Auctions.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.