Fed Up With Chaos, Van Gogh Museum Scraps Free Pokémon Card Initiative

An unlikely collaboration between the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and Japanese media giant Pokémon has ended, according to the BBC, after a “small group of individuals” swarmed the gift shop creating what the museum described as an “undesirable situation.”

Pokémon-hungry crowds descended upon the museum for the van Gogh–inspired merchandise that placed the brand’s most popular creatures in the context of van Gogh’s most recognizable works—including Sunflowers (1889) and The Bedroom (1888)—but the real treasure was limited-edition trading card, Pikachu with Grey Felt Hat, inspired by the artist’s similarly titled self-portrait, that was given away with every purchase. Videos from the collaborations opening day showed a gift shop rife with madness where customers fell over one another for van Gogh swag.

Less than two weeks ago, the Pikachu cards were being sold on eBay for between $121 and $1,500. Today, the highest price for the card comes from a seller called Shining Moon Collectables for nearly $7,000.

The museum claims that the “difficult decision to remove the Pikachu with Grey Felt Hat promo card from the museum” would hopefully allow visitors to the crossover exhibition to stay safe and enjoy themselves, though the museum did not say exactly why the card caused a presumably unsafe environment in the exhibition.

The Pokémon x Van Gogh collaboration was announced in mid-September and launched just a few weeks ago, on September 28. A cryptic video posted to the official Pokémon YouTube channel showed Pikachu and Eevee, two of the most popular Pokémon stars, running through field of sunflowers in a van Goghesque hilly landscape surrounded by haystacks and windmills. Suddenly the background and the characters themselves shed were magically decorated with van Gogh’s signature heavy brushstrokes, and the sunflowers had come to life and began gleefully jumping around, smiles on their yellow faces.

For the Pokémon fanatics in North America, there is still hope of obtaining the much sought after swag.

According to the Van Gogh Museum’s Frequently Asked Questions page, fans shopping at Pokémon Center (United Kingdom, United States, and Canada) will soon get another change to bag a Pikachu with Grey Felt Hat promo card, though like the original announcement for the collaboration details are scarce.

“Pokémon will give additional updates through its official email and social media channels,” the website said, while the promo card will be reintroduced to participating retailers in the Netherlands early next year. To make things abundantly clear the museum concluded the FAQ section about the promo card with the sentence, “It will not be available via the Van Gogh Museum.”