Naked statues of Donald Trump in cities across the US are arousing heated reactions from onlookers, many of them snapping selfies with the likeness of the Republican presidential nominee who in real-life has bragged about the size of his manhood.

The life-size and unflattering sculptures, the work of anarchist activist group Indecline, popped up in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Seattle.

It's "very good work," San Francisco resident Mark Abramson told dpa, noting details such as the blue veins and sagging skin on the statue's derriere.

The work also features a very small penis.

"Trump earned that," Abramson said. "If anyone is against being politically correct it is Trump."

Earlier this year the real estate mogul defended himself against an attack by presidential contender Marco Rubio, who claimed that Trump has "small hands."

Trump responded: "Look at those hands, are they small hands? ... He referred to my hands - 'if they're small, something else must be small.' I guarantee you there's no problem. I guarantee."

The statue is instantly recognizable as Trump by the hair, which has long made him the butt of jokes, and shows him standing with fingers interlocked over a large protruding belly.

The statues were placed atop a pedestal with an inscription reading: "The Emperor Has No Balls."

The title plays off of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, The Emperor's New Clothes, in which the emperor proudly parades naked before his subjects after being duped into believing he is wearing the finest garments.

Photos and selfies with the statues made the rounds on social networks. Authorities in Cleveland removed the statue within 20 minutes, local media reported, while the one in New York's Union Square park was taken away after two hours.

"NYC Parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small," New York's Parks Deparment said in a statement.

As of Thursday afternoon, the San Francisco statue was still standing in the Castro District, one of the country's first gay neighbourhoods. "We have not received any complaints," a San Francisco municipal spokeswoman told the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.

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