Florida artist charged after destroying $1m Ai Weiwei vase

Artist deliberately dropped vase in apparent protest

A Florida artist has been charged with criminal mischief after deliberating dropping a vase worth $1 million (£600,000) created by the Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei, in an apparent protest.

According to police, Maximo Caminero, 51, told them that he dropped the piece, which was part of a floor installation of 16 brightly painted vases dating back more than 2,000 years to China's Han dynasty at the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), in protest at the lack of local artists on display at the museum.

A security guard told police officers that Mr Caminero picked up a coloured vase and, when told to put it down, smashed it on the floor, a police affidavit said. He was charged on Sunday following the incident.

Criminal mischief can be a third-degree felony and could carry a sentence of up to five years in prison when the property damaged is worth more than $1,000 in the state of Florida.

Mr Caminero said that he would hold a press conference today to answer questions, but in an interview with to the Miami New Times he said: “I did it for all the local artists in Miami that have never been shown in museums here. They have spent so many millions now on international artists”.

He added that he was unaware of the value of the piece: “I didn't know that it was that amount”.

Behind the installation are a series of three black-and-white photos showing Ai Weiwei holding a vase and then letting it drop to the ground, smashing it to pieces, with Mr Caminero saying he was inspired Ai Weiwei's own art.

“I saw it as a provocation by Weiwei to join him in an act of performance protest,” he told the publication. “I admire Ai Weiwei greatly and have always supported his actions.”

PAMM is holding an exhibition of the Ai Weiwei's work until mid-March.