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Image / Living / Culture

The baby on Nirvana’s Nevermind cover is suing for damages 30 years on


by Jennifer McShane
25th Aug 2021
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Spencer Elden is seeking upwards of $150,000 in damages for the album cover.

Spencer Elden, the man who was photographed as a baby on the album cover for Nirvana’s Nevermind, is suing the band alleging sexual exploitation.

According to reports, in a lawsuit filed in a Californian district court against numerous parties, including the surviving members of the band, Kurt Cobain’s widow Courtney Love, and the record labels that released or distributed the album in the last three decades, Elden alleges the defendants produced child pornography with the image, which features him swimming naked towards a dollar bill.

Elden says his parents never signed a release authorising the use of his image on the album.

He also alleges the nude image constitutes child pornography.

“The images exposed Spencer’s intimate body part and lasciviously displayed Spencer’s genitals from the time he was an infant to the present day,” legal papers filed in California claim.

Non-sexualised photos of infants are generally not considered child pornography under US law, however, Elden’s lawyer, Robert Y. Lewis, argues that the inclusion of the dollar bill (which was superimposed after the photograph was taken) makes the minor seem “like a sex worker”.

“Lifelong damages”

Elden alleges his “true 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”.

He claims he “has suffered and will continue to suffer lifelong damages” as a result of the artwork, including “extreme and permanent emotional distress” as well as “interference with his normal development and educational progress” and “medical and psychological treatment”.

According to Spencer’s father, Rick Elden, the family was paid $200 to throw 4-month-old Spencer into a pool for “half a second” so he could be shot by photographer Kirk Weddle (also named in the suit).

Elden is seeking damages of at least $150,000 from each of the 15 defendants, plus costs, and asks that the case be tried with a jury. The defendants have not yet responded to the lawsuit, or commented on it publicly.

The suit, posted here in its entirety

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