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Artist smashes $1M vase at Miami art museum as act of 'performance protest'

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The golden rule of visiting museums (and in writing opening paragraphs about people who break things at these museums) is a steadfast "please don't touch." One local artist did not heed this advice, though he is different than all the others in that he did it on purpose.

According to the Miami Herald on Monday, Maximo Caminero staged what he called a "protest to police" at Pérez Art Museum Miami when he purposefully smashed one of 16 vases in a collection by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. The kicker? The vase was worth around $1 million. Lucky for Weiwei, the piece is insured.

A security guard reportedly saw Caminero hoist the vase over his head and asked him to put it down, but the artist smashed it anyway and is now being charged with criminal mischief. He is said to have carried out the stunt spontaneously in order to protest the museum's lack of local artists on display in lieu of international art.

“The museum is working with the authorities in their investigation,” Pérez deputy director for external affairs Leann Standish said. "However, the museum remains open and we look forward to continuing to welcome visitors from Miami and around the world."

BBC News adds that Caminero is planning to hold a press conference on Tuesday to further explain his actions. He is quoted as telling the Miami New Times that he saw it as a provocation by Weiwei to join him in a "performance protest." In addition to the vases, the Weiwei art installation features three photos of the artist holding a vase, dropping it, and letting it smash on the ground.

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