Van Gogh Museum forced to stop distributing special Pikachu cards after scalpers storm the gates: '[we] take the safety and security of visitors and staff very seriously'

Pikachu, a Pokemon mascot, rendered in Van Gogh's signature style.
(Image credit: The Pokemon Company / The Van Gogh Museum)

Late last month, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam opened a special exhibit in partnership with Pokemon, celebrating its 50th anniversary—and, in a move that's a little unwise in hindsight, also offered a limited-edition Pikachu card in the style of Gogh's piece "Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat".

The intent was to make a fun, family-friendly event for children and Pokemon fans alike, exposing them to art history with a marketable carrot on a stick. Unfortunately, that same carrot drew out scalpers from their hives to make a quick buck. Would-be collectors swarmed the museum, jostling for a chance to pawn the thing on eBay. 

The fan response was overall appalled, but not surprised. Joe Merrick of fan website Seribii aptly commented that the storm was "why we can’t have nice things." Twitch streamer Dachshundwizard later wrote that the event was "a disaster, serving as a stark reminder of human greed and lust."

Now, as spotted by VGC, the museum has officially called curtains on the promotion altogether. A statement in the site's FAQ reads: "The Van Gogh Museum and The Pokemon Company International take the safety and security of visitors and staff very seriously.

"Recently, a small group of individuals has created an undesirable situation that has led us to take the difficult decision to remove the Pikachu with Grey Felt Hat promo card from the museum. In this way, visitors will be able to experience this special collection of Pokemon paintings and the rest of the museum in a safe and enjoyable manner."

The Pokemon Company later announced that the card will be available for purchase online via the Pokemon Center site. As long as you spend over $30 on other Pokemon products, of course.

A post that reads: "Fans shopping at Pokémon Center will soon receive another opportunity to obtain the “Pikachu with Grey Felt Hat” promo card. Trainers will receive one “Pikachu with Grey Felt Hat” promo card with a Pokémon Center order containing Pokémon Trading Card Game products, while supplies last (minimum purchase of $30 in qualifying Pokémon TCG items required, limited to one promo card per order). Stay tuned to our official email and social media channels for additional updates. #PokemonVanGoghMuseum"

(Image credit: @Pokemon on Twitter/X.)

One can use their best judgement on whether this is an attempt to make more money off a depressing fiasco, or a necessary buy-in to stem the tide of people who thought gatecrashing an event for children, fans, and families was appropriate.

Either way, it'll be interesting to see whether this calms the ongoing eBay flogging. At the time of writing, the card's value seems to have stabilised at around $190. Getting the card and $30's worth of Poke-merchandise is definitely the better deal, but I fear stocks will just vanish due to opportunists with deep pockets, and we'll just be back at square one again. 

At least the event gets less obnoxious for visitors this way—not to mention the poor staff who've had to put up with this nonsense. The event will be running as planned until January 7, so there's still plenty of time to soak in the ambiance.

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.