Maximo Caminero Pleads Guilty to Destroying Ai Weiwei Artwork, Will Not Face Prison Time
Máximo Caminero in his Miami studio.
Photo by Michael E. Miller
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."
The Ai Weiwei exhibit at PAMM, minus the pot destroyed by Caminero.
Photo by Michael E. Miller
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."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.