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Van Gogh museum withdraws Pokémon cards due to safety concerns

‘A small group of individuals has created an undesirable situation’

The Pikachu with Grey Felt Hat painting, in the style of Van Gogh, can be seen through a crowd of onlookers Photo: Remko de Waal/ANP/AFP via Getty Images
Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum has said it will no longer offer the Pikachu with Grey Felt Hat promo card that ties in with its special Pokémon exhibit due to safety concerns, after scalpers and fans mobbed its gift shop and cleaned out all of its stock in a frenzied scene at the exhibition’s opening on Sept. 28.

“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 update to the frequently asked questions section on the web page for its Pokémon exhibit. “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.”

The museum said the card will be made available for purchase at the Pokémon Center online store at some point in the future, as well as at participating retailers in the Netherlands early next year, but it will never again be available at the museum. Disappointed fans are directed to Pokémon social media channels for news on availability of the card, and to the museum contact form if they want a refund for their exhibition tickets. (The card had initially been offered as part of the price of admission.)

At the opening of the exhibition, a crowd was recorded pushing and shoving to get at merchandise in the museum's gift shop, and soon after the Pikachu card was seen listed for sky-high prices on auction sites. On the following day, Sept. 29, the Pokémon Company said all its products from the Van Gogh collection had sold out. The museum initially said it would limit purchases to one per person, but has clearly since concluded that even this won’t keep the greed of scalpers at bay at its physical location.

If you just want to see the pictures, however, the Pokémon event at the Van Gogh museum continues until Jan. 7, 2024.

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