Spencer Elden, most known as the baby on the cover of Nirvana’s iconic album, “Nevermind”, is now suing the band and various other people over the use of the said photo. The album had sold over 30 million copies.
In his lawsuit against Nirvana, its surviving members, Kurt Cobain’s estate, several record companies, as well as art directors, the 30 year-old stated that the parties involved have violated federal criminal child pornography laws and caused him life-long suffering because of it.
Said Elden, that the photo had his “identity and legal name are forever tied to the commercial sexual exploitation he experienced as a minor which has been distributed and sold worldwide from the time he was a baby to the present day.”
It was also alleged that the defendants failed to protect Elden and prevent his widespread sexual exploitation and image trafficking – while having paid no compensation to him nor his parents, of whom he said did not sign a release authorising the use of his image on the album.
The cover in question, which was for the 1991 album, depicts a naked baby swimming underwater towards a dollar bill attached to a fish hook.
The lawsuit further stated, “To ensure the album cover would trigger a visceral sexual response from the viewer, (photographer Kirk) Weddle activated Spencer’s ‘gag reflex’ before throwing him underwater in poses highlighting and emphasizing Spencer’s exposed genitals.” It further stated that Nirvana promised to cover Elden’s genitals with a sticker, but did not uphold the agreement.
Elden is seeking either USD 150,000 from each of the 17 defendants or a different amount to be determined at trial.
However, it was just back in 2016 on the 25th anniversary of the album that Elden had re-created the picture but with swim shorts on. He said then “It’s cool but weird to be part of something so important that I don’t even remember. It’s strange that I did this for five minutes when I was four months old and it became this really iconic image.”
He had previously posed for the album’s 10th, 17th and 20th anniversaries as well.