white flags brooklyn bridge Credit: Councilman Mark Weprin, Twitter

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that a pair of German artists were behind the Brooklyn Bridge white flag stunt that upset city officials and left New Yorkers confused.

The Gray Lady spoke with artists Mischa Leinkauf, 37, and Matthias Wermke, 35, who said they replaced the stars and stripes on the bridge's two towers with two hand-sown, white flags in honor of the bridge's designer, German-born John Roebling.


Roebling passed away on July 22, 1869, 144 years to the date that the flags were first spotted.

Late Tuesday, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis released a statement that the department "is aware of the public statements made by the German artists" and that the investigation is ongoing.

The Berlin-based duo provided the Times with photos and videos of their ploy as evidence of their involvement, which they claim took place between 3 and 5 a.m. that morning.

The sudden appearance set off a chain of events that ranged from mocking headlines to anger from elected and police officials who saw the act as a potential threat to the city's security.

"I think it was a wake-up call, and we’re going to act on it very aggressively," Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters in late July. The artists said their feat was anything but malicious.

"Few people would care if we did the same thing in Berlin," Mr. Leinkauf told the Times. "Of course, we did not have the same problems with terrorism."

The Manhattan district attorney's office launched an investigation into the alleged artsy prank, going so far as to subpoena the owners of a parody Twitter account that took jokingly took credit for the stunt at the time.

"Whew," the @BicycleLobby account read on Tuesday with a link to the Times story.

But the white flag was no joking matter for Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who was not immediately available for comment Tuesday evening.

"This was a terrorist act," Adams told reporters in July as he announced a $5,000 out-of—pocket reward for information leading to an arrest. "Anytime you bring about terror, it's a terrorist act."

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter@chestersoria