Landauer's erasure principle states that there is an inherent work cost associated with all irreversible operations, like the erasure of the data stored in a system. The necessary work is determined by our uncertainty: the more we know about the system, the less it costs to erase it.
Here, we analyse erasure in a general setting where our information about that system can be quantum mechanical. In this scenario, our uncertainty, measured by a conditional entropy, may become negative. We establish a general relation between quantum conditional entropies and a physical quantity, the work cost of erasure. As a consequence, we obtain a thermodynamic interpretation of negative entropies: they quantify the work that can be gained by a quantum observer erasing a system.