In Quentin Tarantino‘s “The Hateful Eight,” Kurt Russell‘s character smashes a guitar to stop Jennifer Jason Leigh‘s character from playing it. It turns out that the guitar he used in the scene was a priceless 145-year-old instrument on loan from Pennsylvania’s Martin Guitar Museum.
“We were informed that it was an accident on set,” museum director Dick Boak told Reverb. “We assumed that a scaffolding or something fell on it. We understand that things happen, but at the same time we can’t take this lightly. All this about the guitar being smashed being written into the script and that somebody just didn’t tell the actor, this is all new information to us. We didn’t know anything about the script or Kurt Russell not being told that it was a priceless, irreplaceable artifact from the Martin Museum.”
Sound mixer Mark Ulano told SSNInsider that the scene was supposed to be shot to a certain point, and then the antique guitar would be swapped out for a double, which would be the one to be smashed.
“Well, somehow that didn’t get communicated to Kurt, so when you see that happen on the frame, Jennifer’s reaction is genuine,” Ulano said.
According to Reverb, several copies of the guitar were available on set, but the priceless guitar was the one destroyed on camera.
Consequently, Boak says that the company “will no longer loan guitars to movies under any circumstances.”
At first, the company asked for the parts to be returned in case the guitar was salvageable, but upon inspection, realized that “the guitar was beyond fixing. It’s destroyed,” he said.
“We want to make sure that people know that the incident was very distressing to us,” Boak says. “We can’t believe that it happened. I don’t think anything can really remedy this. We’ve been remunerated for the insurance value, but it’s not about the money. It’s about the preservation of American musical history and heritage.”