Two German artists claim that they were responsible for a pair of big white flags that appeared overnight last month atop the Brooklyn Bridge in New York in place of the US stars and stripes.
The sudden appearance of the flags in a city highly sensitive to security risks sparked an investigation in which police ruled out any terrorist link but stepped up security around the city's key bridges.
On their website, Mischa Leinkauf and Matthias Wermke said they had "hoisted two hand-sewn white American flags on the towers" during the night.
The prank was aimed at honoring "the beauty of public space" and celebrating the iconic span designed by a German-born engineer who died in 1869 on July 22 -- the day the flags appeared, they told The New York Times.
To back up their claim, the German artists provided video footage apparently shot at night from atop the mighty bridge.
"This was not an anti-American statement," Wermke, 35, told the Times.
"From our Berlin background, we were a little surprised that it got the reaction it did. We really didn't intend to embarrass the police," Leinkauf, 37, added.
"We saw the bridge, which was designed by a German, trained in Berlin, who came to America because it was the place to fulfill his dreams, as the most beautiful expression of a great public space," Leinkauf said. "That beauty was what we were trying to capture."
The two artists staged the stunt between 3 and 5 am on July 22, lugging the white flags in backpacks.
They used the climbing cables that workers and the police use to reach the towers, the Times said. They did not see security cameras.
The pair made the white flags themselves using two kinds of fabric to depict the stars and stripes.
They removed the real US flags respectfully, and plan to return them, they said.