The Van Gogh Museum has announced it will no longer offer the limited edition ‘Pikachu with Grey Felt Hat‘ Pokemon TCG card due to swarms of scalpers causing safety issues at the museum. The card had been offered to those who purchased special ‘Van Gogh x Pokemon‘ collab items designed to celebrate a special Pokemon installation at the museum – but as videos on social media attested, these items quickly became the domain of aggressive scalpers, looking to resell the items for high profit.
In the week following the merchandise launch, several videos posted to Twitter revealed hordes of scalpers descending on the Van Gogh Museum, many of them being loud and displaying aggressive behaviour – pushing, shoving, and shouting in the museum’s shop.
It appears the situation became so untenable, that staff at the museum held genuine fears for safety – which is why the card will no longer be offered.
“The Van Gogh Museum and The Pokémon Company International take the safety and security of visitors and staff very seriously,” the museum said in an updated FAQ for the Pokemon collaboration. “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 Pokémon paintings and the rest of the museum in a safe and enjoyable manner.”
While it would be fair to assume that some legitimate Pokemon fans visited the museum for their own interest, the Pikachu with Grey Felt Hat promo card almost immediately skyrocketed in price in the week following the merchandise launch, being sold for up to US $500 as scalpers flooded the market.
Many fans have taken to social media to express their disappointment, particularly at how quickly stock of some items sold out – and that the experience of visiting the Van Gogh Museum was largely ruined by those looking to exploit the popularity of Pokemon promos.
In recent years, the high price of rare Pokemon promo cards has inspired similar scalping behaviour worldwide, which is also part of the frustration. Unfortunately, the furore around the Van Gogh Museum appeared predictable – and yet, staff and security did not appear prepared for the high demand.
To remedy the situation, the Pokemon Company has apologised, and promised fans will have new opportunities to obtain the Pikachu with Grey Felt Hat promo card in future. It will be made available online via the Pokemon Center in the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada shortly, and will also be reintroduced at select retailers in the Netherlands in 2024.
At this stage, it’s unclear how The Pokemon Company will deal with the demand around this item – but it’s clear there are important lessons to be learned from this collaboration. While the idea of sharing the Pokemon love with museums is worth pursuing, it appears the promotion around these events may need a rethink, in light of the behaviour of some careless collectors.