Nirvana sued for child pornography by man who appeared in their famous 'Nevermind' cover

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Aug 25, 2021, 03:30 PM(IST)

Nirvana's 'Nevermind' cover (1991) Photograph:( Instagram )

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Nirvana and the estate of Kurt Cobain is now reportedly sued by Spencer Elden, the man who was the baby seen on the group's 'Nevermind' album cover in 1991, reports state. 

Nirvana and the estate of Kurt Cobain is now reportedly being sued by Spencer Elden, the man who was the baby seen on the group's 'Nevermind' album cover in 1991, reports state. 


In court documents, filed in Los Angeles federal court, states that band members, record companies and creative personnel had 'trafficked' Elden's image for profit and he has 'continued to suffer lifelong damages as a result.'


He went on to add that 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.'

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Elden also stated in his complaint that 'defendants failed to take reasonable steps to protect [him] and prevent his widespread sexual exploitation and image trafficking.'


In the lawsuit, he mentioned that his parents had never given their release in writing for the photos, and were not paid, despite 2008 reports that photographer Kirk Weddle paid Elden's father Rich $200 for 15 seconds of work to appear in the snap, according to a news report. 


The image in question was reportedly snapped in 1990 at the Pasadena Aquatic Center when he was four months old.

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The famous album cover, which the late lead singer Kurt Cobain had picked out, shows a naked baby swimming underwater toward a dollar bill on a string. 


Elden's legal team said in the suit that '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.'


"As an essential element of a record promotion scheme commonly utilized in the music industry to get attention, wherein album covers posed children in a sexually provocative manner to gain notoriety, drive sales, and garner media attention, and critical reviews," read a part of the suit.


According to court documents, the band had promised that a sticker would be placed on the area of the baby's genitals, but didn't place it on the cover. 


Elden is asking for $150,000 from each of 17 defendants named in the suit, which include Cobain's bandmates Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, the executor of Cobain’s estate, and the estate's managers Guy Oseary and Heather Parry. 


Other names included in the lawsuit are of photographer Kirk Weddle; art director Robert Fisher and a number of record companies that released of distributed Nevermind in the past three decades. 


Elden is also thought to be suing artwork photographer Kirk Weddle and designer Robert Fisher, and Nirvana’s drummer from 1988 to 1990, Chad Channing. 


Since the cover was published, Elden has repeatedly recreated the image as both a teenager and an adult, but in many interviews has shared his mixed feelings about it.


In a 2016 interview with TIME to mark the album's 25th Anniversary, he had reportedly said, "It’s hard not to get upset when you hear how much money was involved."


Elden added at the time that he had attempted to reach out to the band, but never received a response. 

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