The Van Gogh Museum Fires Four Staff Members Over Pokémon Chaos

One worker reportedly stole a box of limited-edition cards.

Pikachu inspired by Van Gogh's Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat by Naoyo Kimura (1960). Image: The Pokémon Company International.

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has fired four workers over the chaos surrounding last year’s collaborative exhibition with the Pokémon Company. The news was first reported by the Dutch newspaper Het Parool, which confirmed that the employees would not be returning to their jobs after being suspended in December.

According to the museum, those fired included operational services employees who worked as security guards or in the checkroom or ticket office. Artnet News has reached out to the Van Gogh Museum for more information but did not hear back by press time.

Of the fired workers, one had stolen a box of limited-edition Pikachu with Grey Felt Hat cards, modeled on Van Gogh’s 1887 self-portrait but featuring the beloved Pikachu character. Another staffer who had worked for the museum for 25 years allegedly told visitors exactly when they could best nab the cards, a breach of the museum’s procedures and codes of conduct.

The Van Gogh Museum and Pokémon Company launched their collaboration in September 2023 with a slew of jointly branded merchandise and an exhibition featuring six works depicting Pokémon monsters in the style of Van Gogh. The limited-edition promo card, in which Pikachu is shown wearing the artist’s felt hat, could be collected after completing a scavenger hunt activity in the museum, and only one card could be redeemed per ticket.

But the gift shop devolved into chaos as early as opening day. A mob was recorded storming the cash register in videos posted online and the entire merchandise collection sold out in 24 hours. Tickets to the show, now closed, were also sold out weeks in advance.

The museum stopped offering the card in October, due to unmanageable crowds and after flippers began reselling the collectibles online for massive profits (one eBay listing shows a seller seeking as much as $100,000 for theirs). The cards are due for a relaunch in February, however, when they will be made available in select gaming stores in the Netherlands.


More Trending Stories:  

A Case for Enjoying ‘The Curse,’ Showtime’s Absurdist Take on Art and Media 

Artist Ryan Trecartin Built His Career on the Internet. Now, He’s Decided It’s Pretty Boring 

I Make Art With A.I. Here’s Why All Artists Need to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Technology 

Sotheby’s Exec Paints an Ugly Picture of Yves Bouvier’s Deceptions in Ongoing Rybolovlev Trial 

Loie Hollowell’s New Move From Abstraction to Realism Is Not a One-Way Journey 

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics