Maximo Caminero Pleads Guilty to Destroying Ai Weiwei Artwork, Will Not Face Prison Time

Categories: Crime

Photo by Michael E. Miller
Máximo Caminero in his Miami studio.
Máximo Caminero, the Miami painter who earlier this year deliberately smashed an expensive urn at Pérez Art Museum Miami, will not be headed to prison.

Miami-Dade prosecutors announced today that Caminero pleaded guilty to criminal mischief for destroying an Ai Weiwei vase at PAMM February 16. Caminero will serve 18 months of probation for the "protest," but the deal allows the 51-year-old to avoid incarceration.

"I find it hard to live with what I did because it still haunts me," Caminero wrote in an apology letter. "I cannot repair the damage caused to so many, but given a second chance I will demonstrate that redemption is still a way to recover one's humanity."

See also: Breaking Point: Máximo Caminero's Million-Dollar Attack on the Miami Art World

Photo by Michael E. Miller
The Ai Weiwei exhibit at PAMM, minus the pot destroyed by Caminero.
Technically, Caminero was sentenced to two days in jail for his stunt, news of which was broken by New Times and quickly went viral worldwide.

But the Dominican-born painter was awarded time served for the two days he spent locked up after handing himself over to museum security guards.

Caminero will also have to pay $10,000 to an insurance company for the broken urn -- just one one-hundredth of the object's initially reported value of $1 million.

Finally, Caminero will serve 100 hours of community service by (fittingly) helping to teach young Miamians about art.

Here is Caminero's full apology letter:

Reached by New Times, Caminero said he was relieved.

"I really appreciate that they accepted to come to an agreement so that we avoided a trial and all the mess," he said. "I think it's better for everybody. Better for the museum to not put an artist in jail. Better for me. Better for Ai Weiwei."

But Caminero did have some lingering criticism of the Chinese dissident.

"What I did was wrong, but what he did was wrong too," Caminero said of Ai's own destruction of ancient Chinese urns. "Ai Weiwei is breaking cultural patrimony."

Caminero dismissed the idea that his recent infamy has helped him sell paintings.

"Some people buy whatever is in the media, but that is stupid," he says. "They have to buy whatever they feel is right, not because it's famous."

Despite his joy at avoiding more jail time, Caminero said his life is now more difficult than ever. He is closing his studio at 77th Street and Biscayne Boulevard because his landlord tripled the rent. But he promised to keep painting.

"It's the life of the artist -- they transform their situations into something," he said. "If you look at the history of artists and writers, they come from hard situations. This is one of them.

"I'm doing what I have to do," Caminero said. "Everything is flowing. Fluyendo. Flowing. The universe knows what it's doing.

"We don't know what we are doing. But the universe knows."

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Margie Schneider
Margie Schneider

S.j. - like I said - just for a comparison. Kid got what he got - Them's the breaks.

Mee Notyou
Mee Notyou

18 months probation beats 18 months of actual jail time. Can't do the time? Showing up to piss in a cup and validate having a job for 18 months sounds like soft time for either crime. I do understand the inconvenience of having to be accountable for your actions. Let's think about the crimes we have committed( or the previous mentioned ) where we have been LUCKY enough not to be pinched. Perhaps it's just the company I keep. There are plenty of others who have endured harsher punishment for less.

Tu Madre
Tu Madre

18 months? It was a frickin vase.

Dave Basora
Dave Basora

The other artist should break another vase. Over this assholes fuckin head

Margie Schneider
Margie Schneider

S.j. My son stole someone's wallet out of their unlocked car and charged $3 on it. He got 18 months probation. Not saying what he did was ok, but there's a comparison for you.

orleans topcommenter

In the end, the only party profiting here is neither Wei Wei, nor Caminero, nor the PAMM. but the insurance company!!!  Very sad.


...a "frickin vase" valued at one million dollars.  By your rationale, the Mona Lisa is just a frickin canvas with some paint on it.

lrn2art, bro.

orleans topcommenter

it says he's paying 10k, which is about $9,995 more than what Wei Wei paid for it.

orleans topcommenter

me neither. justice would mean he walks,and wei wei does time, not for opposition to the chinese government, but for defacing ancient vases.

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