A pair of German artists claimed responsibility Tuesday for swapping the flags on top of the Brooklyn Bridge with white ones last month.
The artists, Matthias Wermke and Mischa Leinkauf, sent The New York Times photos and video of what appears to be the same white flags from the top of the bridge’s tower at nighttime — when the flags were replaced on July 22. They also posted a photo of the white flags atop the tower on their website, along with other art exhibitions they have done.
In an email statement, the artists said they hoisted two hand-sewn white American flags onto the towers of the bridge, “careful to treat the bridge and the flags with respect.”
The artists kept the original flags they took down, they said, and are in the process of returning them.
“The NYPD is aware of the public statements made by the German Artists, Mishcha Leinkauf and Matthias Wermke in regard to the Brooklyn Bridge flag case,” said Deputy Commissioner Stephen P. Davis, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, in a statement. “The investigation is continuing.”
Wermke and Leinkauf said they wanted to honor the bridge’s German engineer, John Roebling, who died on July 22, in 1869.
“Like an empty canvas, White American Flags invites many readings, multiple interpretations and projections,” they said in the statement. “White American Flags abandons the museum and returns art to the real world.”
The artists, who live in Berlin, told the Times they were surprised by the reaction the stunt garnered.
The stunt spawned several punchlines about Brooklyn surrendering and a few parody groups claiming credit.
“Earlier today we hoisted two white flags to signal our complete surrender of the Brooklyn Bridge bicycle path to pedestrians,” the parody Twitter account, Bike Lobby, posted that morning.
Tuesday, the Bike Lobby posted a link to the Times’ article on Twitter and wrote, “whew.” They then jokingly posted a photo of famed-German-American magicians Siegfried & Roy — their “exclusive picture of the German artists responsible for planting the flags on the Brooklyn Bridge.”
A California man, who claimed to be the founder of the pot party, also tried to take credit.
But city weren’t laughing about the stunt: Police Commissioner Bill Bratton was concerned with how easily the security on the iconic bridge was breeched.
“Needless to say no matter what the motive was, that is a matter of concern,” Bratton said last month. “I’m not particularly happy about the event.”
Around 3:30 a.m. that day the light that illuminated the flag on the Brooklyn tower flickered, then went out; at 3:42 a.m., the same thing happened on the Manhattan tower, police have said. Large aluminum pans were secured to the light with zip ties.
The German artists told the Times they carried the flags in backpacks up the climbing cables workers regularly use to reach the top of the bridge.
They told the Times it too more than a week to hand-dew the flags with two kinds of white fabric — alternating the fabrics to make stars and stripes.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams had issued a statement after the incident, promising that Brooklyn would “not surrender our safety.” He then offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
“If flying a white flag atop the Brooklyn Bridge is someone’s idea of a joke, I’m not laughing,” Adams said in a statement last month. “The public safety of our city is of paramount importance, particularly our landmarks and bridges that are already known to be high-risk targets.”