A Florida artist is looking at up to five years in prison after smashing what he thought was a cheap pot at the Pérez Art Museum Miami—but that turned out to be a $1 million vase from the Han Dynasty, displayed in the museum as part of an exhibit curated by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.
Maximo Caminero, a Miami painter, smashed the pot Monday to protest what he called the museum’s focus on international artists at the expense of local talent. He said he was mimicking a triptych displayed in the exhibition of Ai dropping a similar vase.
But Caminero later said he had no idea that he’d picked up a priceless artifact, one of several that had been painted by Ai for the exhibit. “I thought it was a common clay pot like you would find at Home Depot, frankly,” Caminero, said. “I didn’t know it was that amount. I feel so sorry about it, for sure.”
“The argument does not support the act,” Ai told the New York Times, though he didn’t sound overly upset about the breakage. “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.”
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