Presented By
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's "Colored Vases" are shown at the Perez Art Museum Miami, Florida in this Dec. 3, 2013 photo
Zachary Fagenson—Reuters

Was it protest, performance art, or vandalism? The question lingers after news broke that a Florida man deliberately trashed a vase by Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei. His act echoes one of Ai’s most famous works, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995), a triptych that shows him destroying a Chinese artifact.

Artist Maximo Caminero, 51, told Miami police he dropped the paint-dipped vase to protest the fact that Pérez Art Museum Miami features international, not local, work. The Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn pictures were hanging behind the soon-to-be-smashed Colored Vases (2006-2012). “I saw it as a provocation by Weiwei to join him in an act of performance protest,” Caminero told the Miami New Times.

Provocative? Perhaps. Definitely costly. Caminero said he thought the vase was a “common clay put you would find at Home Depot.” It was not. The paint-dipped, Han dynasty vase may be worth as much as a $1 million. And Caminero faces criminal charges.

MORE: Watch Ai Weiwei discuss his cover art for TIME, here.

More Must-Reads From TIME

Write to Emily Rauhala at

You May Also Like