Miami police have arrested a man who they say smashed a $1 million vase by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei to protest that the city's newly opened museum is only displaying international art.
Dominican-born Maximo Caminero, 51, was arrested and charged on Sunday with criminal mischief after picking up one of the 16 brightly painted vases at the Perez Art Museum Miami and throwing it to the ground when confronted by security, according to a police report.
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He told police he broke the vase to protest that the museum only displayed international artists' art, according to the police report.
Caminero, reached by telephone, told Reuters he is a painter and planned to host a news conference on Tuesday to explain his actions.
Later on Tuesday, he told The Miami Herald that he had no right to destroy someone else's art. He cancelled his planned news conference and did not respond to telephone messages left by The Associated Press. A note on his studio door said his lawyer advised against commenting.
Famed artist and Chinese critic
The artist Ai has long attracted international attention for criticizing Chinese government policies on democracy, free speech and human rights. He disappeared abruptly in mid-2011 and was held without charges for nearly three months for alleged economic crimes.
The piece, titled Coloured Vases, is part of Ai's exhibit According to What, which opened along with the museum in late 2013.
Supporters of the Herzog & de Meuron-designed waterfront museum say it signifies an important shift in Miami's cultural landscape as the city looks in part to shed its sun-and-fun image.
The work's 16 vases, each dipped in bright paint by Ai, are about 2,000 years old, dating back to China's Han Dynasty.