Nirvana Sued by Baby From Nevermind Album Artwork for Child Pornography
Nirvana’s surviving members and the estate of Kurt Cobain have been sued by Spencer Elden, who appeared as a baby on the cover of 1991’s Nevermind. Elden claims the band violated federal child pornography statutes and argues child sexual exploitation, TMZ reports and documents viewed by Pitchfork confirm. Pitchfork has reached out to Nirvana’s representatives for comment.
In a lawsuit that also named photographer Kirk Weddle and the labels behind the album’s release, Elden claims he has suffered “lifelong damages” and says his legal guardians never signed a release “authorizing the use of any images of Spencer or of his likeness, and certainly not of commercial child pornography depicting him.” He’s also suing for distribution of private sexually explicit materials, negligence, and what’s described as a “sex trafficking venture” where Elden “was forced to engage in commercial sexual acts while under the age of 18 years old.”
Elden is seeking damages, attorney fees, an injunction to prohibit all parties “from continuing to engage in the unlawful acts and practices described herein,” and a trial by jury.
“The permanent harm he has proximately suffered includes but is not limited to extreme and permanent emotional distress with physical manifestations, interference with his normal development and educational progress, lifelong loss of income earning capacity, loss of past and future wages, past and future expenses for medical and psychological treatment, loss of enjoyment of life, and other losses to be described and proven at trial of this matter,” the lawsuit states.
Weddle was a friend of Elden’s father Rick, which is how young Spencer ended up on the album cover. “[Weddle] calls us up and was like, ‘Hey Rick, wanna make 200 bucks and throw your kid in the drink,’” Rick told NPR in 2008. “I was like, ‘What's up?’ And he’s like, ‘Well, I’m shooting kids all this week, why don’t you meet me at the Rose Bowl, throw your kid in the drink?’ And we just had a big party at the pool, and no one had any idea what was going on!” Spencer was reportedly sent a platinum copy of Nevermind and a teddy bear by Geffen Records in 1991.
Elden recreated the image multiple times over the years and had the word “Nevermind” tattooed on his chest, but in a 2016 interview with GQ Australia, Elden revealed that he had recently become unhappy about the Nevermind artwork. “It’s fucked up,” he said. “I’m pissed off about it, to be honest.”
This article was originally published on Tuesday, August 24 at 9:38 p.m. Eastern. It was last updated on Wednesday, August 25 at 9:32 a.m. Eastern.