Elvis Presley’s iconic ‘68 Comeback Special Hagstrom Viking II sells for $625,000 at auction

Elvis Presley
(Image credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

UPDATE: an earlier version of this story reported $500,000 as the guitar's final selling price.

When it was reported that an Elvis Presley-owned and -played Cherry Red Hagstrom Viking II electric guitar – revered for its use in the iconic ‘68 Comeback Special – was hitting the auction block, it was noted that the axe carried a staggering starting bid of $250,000.

Now, it has been confirmed that the legendary semi-hollow has been sold for a whopping $625,000, with the proud new owner of the lot managing to outbid six other plucky bidders to get their hands on the prized piece of music memorabilia.

The guitar itself, which was sold by GWS Auctions as part of its Artifacts of Hollywood & Music Collection, had not been put up for auction since its last public appearance 25 years ago.

Famous for the role it played in helping Elvis relaunch his live career, the Hagstrom was wielded by the rock ‘n’ roll legend during a specially aired music event on NBC on December 3 1968 – Presley’s first public performance in over seven years.

The guitar originally belonged to Elvis’ bandmate Al Casey, though the semi-hollow showstopper ended up in Presley’s possession after the producers requested it be used by the Jailhouse Rock singer himself, due to its photogenic appearance.

A handful of notes, including a notarized letter of authenticity from Al Casey, a statement from ‘68 Comeback Special drummer Hal Baine, and a letter from legendary producer Bones Howe, all came with the Hagstrom.

Along with the letters, the winner of the auction also received a collection of photographs of Elvis from the filming of the special, as well as various loan paperwork forms from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, where the Hagstrom previously resided as part of an exhibit for Presley.

Despite selling for a six-figure sum, the Hagstrom isn't the most expensive Elvis-owned guitar to be sold in recent times. Last year, Elvis's "Sun Sessions" Martin D-18 acoustic guitar went for an incredible $1.32m.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.