Brooklyn Bridge
Police shut down part of Brooklyn Bridge after the white flags were discovered at 5.30am, baffling everyone Getty

Two Berlin artists have taken credit for a stunt which saw two American flags atop the famous Brooklyn Bridge replaced with white ones.

The mysterious white flags drew speculation from the world's media last month and led to fears for American security.

Police were left baffled after construction workers spotted the new flags early on the morning of 22 July and quickly shut off part of the bridge.

In a statement issued today, Mischa Leinkauf and Matthias Wermke called the work White American Flags and as proof that it was their work provided the New York Times with a video filmed from the top of the bridge.

They say the stunt was not intended to be an anti-American statement. Instead it was meant to "celebrate the beauty of public space" and honour the German-born engineer of the bridge, John August Roebling, by planting the flags on the 145th anniversary of his death.

New york daily post
New York newspapers were quick to question the motives behind the mysterious white flag stunt. New York Post

A video that began circulating on YouTube the morning after the flags were replaced appeared to show "four or five" people walking across the bridge at 3am that morning before shielding the lights on the bridge's two towers with foil so their identities would not be exposed.

The flags provoked a frenzy of online speculation as to the motive of those who had carried out the stunt. Some believed experienced climbers must be responsible as locked gates leading to the cables that support the bridge had not been tampered with.

Others spoke of terrorism and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called the security breach "a wake-up call" for the city.

People who oppose gentrification (a social phenomenon known to apply very much to the Brooklyn area of New York) were also thought to be responsible, and much of the blame was also attached to people who believed Americans had 'surrendered' to something.

This notion was fuelled by the revelation that the flags had a faint stars and stripes pattern, as if the original flags had been bleached.

Leinkauf and Wermke say they raised the flags on the 131-year-old monument to celebrate public art in the "global centre of creativity".

They also said they were "careful to treat the bridge and flags with respect" and followed the US Flag Code in their handling of the flags and intended to return the ones they had removed.

New York Police Department said it was unable to confirm whether there was any truth to the Germans' claims or whether they were suspects.

Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis, however, said he would be happy to have the missing flags back.

Leinkauf and Wermke have carried out a number of previous stunts, including an earlier climb of Brooklyn Bridge when they tied balloons to cables in 2007.