Art & Artists

Van Gogh Museum Fires Staff Amid Pokémon Chaos

January 25, 2024 at 11:32
DALL·E 2024-01-25 12.31.01 - A digital art piece depicting the aftermath of a chaotic collaborative exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, resulting in the firing of four.png
Van Gogh Museum dismisses staff involved in chaos surrounding Pokémon collaboration, including theft and breaches of conduct, leading to a relaunch of limited-edition cards.

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.

Van Gogh Museum Chaos: What Happened?

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.

Theft and Breach of Conduct

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.

Museum and Pokémon Collaboration

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.

Chaos and Merchandise Sellout

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.

Card Relaunch in February

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.