Ai Weiwei Vase Worth $1M Destroyed by Miami Museum Protester

Image: Ai Weiwei Vase Worth $1M Destroyed by Miami Museum Protester

Tuesday, 18 Feb 2014 12:38 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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A Dominican Republic-born artist protesting at the Perez Art Museum in Miami on Sunday smashed a $1 million vase created by dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

Maximo Caminero was arrested and charged with criminal mischief, according to the Miami Herald. Caminero is a famous artist, known for his Caribbean-inspired paintings that have been exhibited locally and outside of the United States. 

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"The museum is working with the authorities in their investigation," Leann Standish, the Perez museum's deputy director for external affairs, said.

According to authorities, Caminero, 51, picked up one of 16 vases on display from Ai's exhibit, then "threw and broke the vase on the floor" when a security guard ordered him put it down.

Police told the Miami Herald that Caminero told the officer arresting him that he shattered the vase to the museum on behalf of local artists.

"The argument does not support the act," Ai told the New York Times. "It doesn't sound right. His argument doesn't make much sense. If he really had a point, he should choose another way, because this will bring him trouble to destroy property that does not belong to him." 

Ai became China's best-known artist but has been pressured by the country's government to suppress his advocacy work, including a lengthy investigation he undertook into poor construction of schools that led to the deaths of thousands of children in their classrooms during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

Ai was held for 81 days in 2011 on tax evasion charges, and the Chinese government continues to restrict his travel.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Ai display featured urns from the Han Dynasty. The exhibit featured photographs of Ai dropping an urn dating back to the Han dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD) and watching it shatter on the ground. 

"We have the highest respect for freedom of expression, but this destructive act is vandalism and disrespectful to another artist and his work," the museum said in a statement.

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