Artist Smashes $1m Ai Weiwei Vase 'In Protest'
A Florida painter has smashed a $1m (£560,000) vase by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei in what he said was an act of protest.
Maximo Caminero, 51, was charged with criminal mischief after Sunday's incident at the Perez Art Museum Miami.
A security guard at the museum told police that Caminero had picked up a coloured vase by Ai and, when told to put it down, smashed it on the floor.
According to a police affidavit, Caminero told officers he had broken the vase to protest against the museum's lack of displays by local artists.
Caminero told the Miami New Times he had no idea the vase was so valuable, and said he was a fan of Ai.
"I didn't know that it was that amount," he was quoted as saying.
He added that he thought it was "a common clay pot like you would find at Home Depot, frankly".
Caminero plans a press conference today.
Criminal mischief is punishable by up to five years in prison when the property damaged is worth more than $1,000 (£560).
The 16 vases on display at the museum, each dipped in bright paint by Ai, are about 2,000 years old, dating to China's Han Dynasty.
Ai's use of ancient vases and other objects has drawn criticism that painting them defaces the original work.
A sculptor, designer and documentary maker, Ai was an artistic consultant on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics.
But he has irked authorities by criticising China's human rights record and calling for more transparency and rule of law.
In 2011, Ai was held for almost three months despite no charges being filed.
His artwork made up of thousands of sunflower seeds at London's Tate Modern in 2010 was seen by an estimated 3.4 million people.
Reacting to the news of his vase being smashed, he told CNN: "The protest itself may be valid but to damage somebody's work to do that is questionable."
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