Protester Smashes $1 Million Ai Weiwei Vase in Miami Art Museum

02/18/2014 at 10:00 AM EST

Maximo Caminero Smashes $1 Million Ai WeiWei Vase in Miami as Protest
16 vases, part of an installation by Chinese artist Wei Wei, currently on display at the Perez Art Museum in Miami
AP
A South Florida artist is facing a criminal charge after police say he smashed a $1 million vase at Miami's new art museum to protest what he called its favoritism for international rather than local art.

Maximo Caminero, 51, was charged with criminal mischief after Sunday's incident at the Pérez Art Museum Miami. According to a Miami Police Department arrest affidavit, a security guard told officers that Caminero picked up a colored vase by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. When told to put it down, the security guard said, Caminero smashed it on the floor.

Caminero told officers he broke the vase to protest the museum's lack of local artist displays and because "the museum only displayed international artists' art," according to the affidavit.

Caminero, a painter who lives in Miami, declined comment when reached by telephone Monday. He said he will have an afternoon news conference Tuesday.

The police affidavit lists the value of the vase as $1 million, quoting the museum's security officials. Criminal mischief can be a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison when the property damaged is worth more than $1,000.

"As an art museum dedicated to celebrating modern and contemporary artists from within our community and around the world, we have the highest respect for freedom of expression," the museum said in a statement released late Monday. "But this destructive act is vandalism and disrespectful to another artist and his work, to Pérez Art Museum Miami, and to our community."

Caminero had a recent showing at the JF Gallery in West Palm Beach that offered patrons a chance to meet him and "view a sampling of the work from his 30-year career as an artist."

According to the Pérez Art Museum Miami's website, the vase is one of more than a dozen that are part of a floor installation. Each vase is partially painted in bright colors.

Behind the installation are a series of three black-and-white photos showing Ai holding a vase and then letting it drop to the ground, smashing into pieces.

This piece featured reporting by Curt Anderson, AP Legal Affairs Writer

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