Yet he also saw Rosanna less and less. By the time Caminero quit his job at Flanigan's in 2004, it was too late.

"There is no indication this guy is a good artist," Snitzer says. "I hope he doesn't blow me up for saying that."

"My dad was always passionate about art, so passionate that he risked his whole marriage," Maxiell says. "He definitely put art as the focal point of the relationship. I think my mom was very jealous of that. He basically cheated on my mom with art."

Rosanna adds, "For 35 years I was happy with this guy, but things happen. It's difficult to marry an artist... He lived all his time in the studio to create, create, create."

Máximo Caminero inside his studio at 77th Street and Biscayne Boulevard.
Michael E. Miller
Máximo Caminero inside his studio at 77th Street and Biscayne Boulevard.
Ai Weiwei's Breaking a Han Dynasty Urn, which Caminero says he took as "a provocation by Weiwei to join him in an act of performance protest."
Michael E. Miller
Ai Weiwei's Breaking a Han Dynasty Urn, which Caminero says he took as "a provocation by Weiwei to join him in an act of performance protest."

When Rosanna asked him for a divorce in 2006, Caminero reluctantly agreed. He didn't even hire a lawyer. Instead, he gave her two of the couple's three houses — all mortgaged — and promised to support their daughters. When they finally signed the divorce papers, Rosanna and Máximo wept together in court.

"Everybody else in the court was really happy to be divorced," Rosanna says. "But we were hugging and kissing and crying."

Without Rosanna to dress him in sharp suits, Caminero began wearing baggy jeans and sweaters. He started smoking incessantly, surviving on what seemed to his ex like nothing more than cigarettes and coffee. He still owned a small house in Aventura but spent most nights sleeping on a small cot in his studio, beneath the complete works of José Martí and photos of his daughters.

Without his job at the liquor store, Caminero struggled to pay the rent for his studio. Court records show he was nearly evicted several times. But he preferred his life this way: stripped down to the basics. He finished his novel in three months. And he began to create feverishly, painfully, personally. When his father passed away, he painted a portrait of him on the blanket in which he died.

"I lost my fear," he says. "Before, I didn't really care if I sold a painting. But now I had to become a real artist."

His paintings kept selling in Puerto Rico. They also went up in restaurants and galleries in Panama, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. His work was included in an exhibition in West Palm Beach during Art Basel 2012. And last year, he landed a solo exhibition at Museo de la Universidad de Antioquia in Medellín.

But Miami was another world. Here, some galleries told Caminero he had to pay thousands simply to hang his paintings on their walls and then hand over half the money if they sold. Máximo stopped trying. When Art Wynwood rolled around in February, the gallery in West Palm Beach that represented him didn't attend. Caminero was cut out of the lucrative five-day fair.

Sunday morning, the penultimate day of Art Wynwood, Caminero sat inside his studio reading a book by Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. In one story, the abbot of a Buddhist monastery presented the monks with a test: a beautiful vase of flowers. One monk after another walked up, stared at the vase, and set it back down in confusion. Finally, a young monk picked up the pot and promptly dropped it. "You are the person we are looking for," the abbot said.

Caminero decided to take a trip to the museum. When he saw the photos of Ai Weiwei dropping the urn, he knew what he must do.

"There are no coincidences in life," he says. "Sometimes, it doesn't matter how beautiful the problem is — you have to get rid of it."


Four days after Caminero's arrest, three dozen friends and fellow artists packed the Art Place on NW 27th Street in Wynwood. But the man of the hour was not among them. Earlier in the week, Caminero had canceled a news conference on the advice of his lawyer. Tonight, he was again a no-show. In his absence, friends and fellow artists fought over why he had broken the urn and what it meant for Miami.

"To say that this was an act of jealousy is ridiculous," Danilo Gonzalez, the host and owner of the Art Place, announced from behind a podium. "However, we should take this opportunity to discuss what many of us, including Máximo Caminero, have been struggling with here in Miami, where large institutions like Art Basel come in and ignore the local talents."

Some in the crowd cooed approvingly. But others scrunched their eyes in confusion. "It's bullshit," one artist said. "Just look at the timing of it. Máximo was excluded from Art Wynwood; then he goes and does this."

Caminero's protest ignited outrage around the world, but nowhere did it sow more discord than among artists in Miami. Some, like Gonzalez, saw in Caminero a reflection of their own causes célèbres. But many still considered Caminero's actions a sad and desperate stunt.

What's clear is that though most disparage what he did, Caminero isn't the only artist complaining about exclusive museums and extortionary galleries. Many believe that Art Basel — with its celebrity collectors and paparazzi coverage — does the local art scene as much damage as good. Miami's name might be bandied around with art meccas like New York, L.A., and Basel, Switzerland, they argue, but the city is actually leaving its own local artists behind.

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