A Miami artist is facing criminal charges after allegedly breaking a vase belonging to Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei during a protest against the city’s newly opened museum, which only displayed international art.
Maximo Caminero, 51, was charged with criminal mischief after he broke the vase, which is reportedly worth $1 million, on Sunday at Perez Art Museum in Miami. Caminero reportedly told the police that he was protesting against the museum because it failed to exhibit work by local artists.
"I did it for all the local artists in Miami that have never been shown in museums here," he told the Miami New Times. "They have spent so many millions now on international artists."
Caminero told Reuters via telephone that he is a painter who lives in Miami adding that he planned to host a news conference on Tuesday to explain his actions. He declined to comment further on the matter.
The Florida museum has been holding an exhibition, which included works of the Chinese dissident who was detained in 2011 by China for more than three months for alleged economic crimes.
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According to the police report, a security guard said that Caminero had picked a vase that was part of the floor installation and when he was asked to put it down, he smashed it on the floor. The piece, titled "Colored Vases," is part of WeiWei's exhibit "According to What," which opened along with the museum in late 2013.
The vase that Caminero broke was part of more than a dozen, and is described by Weiwei as originally made during China’s Han dynasty, and was reportedly more than 2,000 years old.
Weiwei told BBC from Beijing that he was not supposed to comment on the choices made by the museum’s curator, and such choices should not lead to or justify the destruction of somebody else’s work.
He pointed out: “I still don't have a chance to show my work in China or Beijing. I never even think of going to a museum in Beijing to protest - if I [did], I would be punished.”