The museum did not want to say how many employees were involved, but Het Parool reports at least four were terminated, including security guards, cashiers, and even a member of the cloakroom staff. One employee had worked at the museum for 25 years.
In a statement to the newspaper, the Van Gogh Museum confirmed “some employees from operational services” did not adhere to the “procedures and code of conduct” expected of staff. However, the museum only regarded this as “an [isolated] incident.”
The newspaper learned one fired employee embezzled a box of Pikachu promo cards.
Other employees gave insider information to scalpers so they would know when the Pokemon x Van Gogh merchandise would be in stock (the newspaper mistakenly reports this as when the cards would be in stock). The museum would stock the merchandise at random times to give visitors a chance to buy it, meaning insider information allowed scalpers to purchase their admission tickets at exactly the right times.
However, our own reporting indicates the problems were more severe.
According to an “honest” scalper I interviewed, “There were at least two employees who stole boxes of the Pikachu cards. One stole a small box. Another stole a master case. I bet there was even more.”
He also revealed the employees were embezzling the Pokemon paintings before customers could buy them. “I have receipts showing employees were purchasing the paintings early. Here’s one at 8:43 AM. The museum opens at 9:00 AM.”
“[The employees] signaled or messaged us like ‘you can pick up [the paintings] at this hour.’ The paintings were pulled out of the back and placed on the shelves for us.”
In regards to how the scalpers worked, he explained, “There was always a line of people outside the museum waiting to buy the promos and merchandise. A lot of [foreigners] and kids were going in like 5, 10, 20 times a day. Kids could get in for free. So they would sell the promo to us for 30-70 euros and go back in for free and get us more promos. I went in 30-50 times to get the cards myself.”
When asked about the museum’s overall knowledge of the scalping, he stated to PokeBeach, “I think the museum tried to cover their ass with a cheap excuse that it’s just the little employees who did it. The higher ups knew what was going on. More employees were involved.”
The museum ultimately ended the card promotion when there was a robbery outside the building. According to our source, two scalpers were robbed “by a bunch of 16 year olds on bikes.”
Earlier this month we revealed the Pikachu promo will be given away at stores in the Netherlands in February. However, our reporting indicates the cards are already being pre-scalped by said stores.
As we’ve repeatedly seen since the pandemic, Pokemon cards seem to tempt the worst in people.