"Don't touch," a guard warned, seconds before a 51-year-old Miami artist picked up an Ai Weiwei vase worth a million dollars and smashed it to pieces on the ground.
Maximo Caminero was arrested for criminal mischief this weekend after he destroyed one of 19 vases in an Ai Weiwei installation at the Pérez Art Museum Miami. Caminero said he was protesting the museum's failure to represent local artists.
Caminero told the Miami New Times that although his protest was an homage to Weiwei, he had no idea how much the vases were worth and thought they were "common clay pot[s] that you'd find at Home Depot."
"It was a spontaneous protest. I was at PAMM and saw Ai Weiwei's photos behind the vases where he drops an ancient Chinese vase and breaks it. And I saw it as a provocation by Weiwei to join him in an act of performance protest."
"The argument does not support the act," Mr. Ai said. "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."
Update: It appears that the $1 million valuation was made by a cop who responded to the scene. In 2007, a group of nine Weiwei vases sold for $156,325. The museum does not currently have a valuation on the broken vase.