Judge dismisses child porn lawsuit against Nirvana filed by 'naked baby' Spencer Elden on 1991 'Nevermind' cover

The court says Spencer Elden, now 31, waited for too long to claim that the legendary grunge band sexually exploited him

Judge dismisses child porn lawsuit against Nirvana filed by 'naked baby' Spencer Elden on 1991 'Nevermind' cover
The late Kurt Cobain's estate, Nirvana members and others involved were sued by Spender Elden, who appeared as a baby on the cover for their 1991 album 'Nevermind' (YouTube; nirvana/Officialsite)
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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Iconic rock band Nirvana, fronted by the late Kurt Cobain, has won the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the man who appeared as a baby on the cover of their legendary 1991 album ‘Nevermind’. The man, Spencer Elden, had sued the surviving members of the band over child sexual exploitation.
 
According to the New York Post, a decision in support of the band was made by US District Judge Fernando Olguin in Los Angeles saying that Elden waited too long to claim that Nirvana sexually exploited him. He sued the band more than 10 years after he learned of the cover. The lawsuit named several record labels including drummer Dave Grohl, bassist Krist Novoselic, Kurt Cobain’s estate, and photographer Kirk Weddle.
 
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(L-R) Musicians Joan Jett, Dave Grohl of Nirvana, Lorde and St. Vincent perform onstage at the 29th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on April 10, 2014 in New York City.
Musicians Joan Jett, Dave Grohl of Nirvana, Lorde and St Vincent perform onstage at the 29th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on April 10, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

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Judge dismisses Spencer Elden’s case against Nirvana

Elden had filed three versions of the suit and the judge dismissing the same prevented him from filing a fourth one. Now 31, he had filed the suit against the band in 2021 claiming that the band violated federal child pornography statutes and alleged it was child sexual exploitation. The lawsuit came months after the band was sued for copyright infringement for the design of a t-shirt released in the 90’s.
 
For the unversed, the album cover of ‘Nevermind’ is among the most recognized album covers in the world. It features a nude toddler swimming towards a dollar bill on a fish hook. The photo was taken by Weddle in 1991 at the Pasadena Aquatic Center in California. For the image, Elden’s parents were paid $200 and the shoot lasted for a mere 15 seconds. 

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Joan Jett performs with Dave Grohl of Nirvana onstage at the 29th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on April 10, 2014 in New York City.
Joan Jett performs with Dave Grohl of Nirvana onstage at the 29th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on April 10, 2014 in New York City (Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

The artwork was inspired by Kurt Cobain's fascination with underwater births at the time. Speaking of the case, the lawyers from both parties were not available to comment. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 2003 about the photo, 12-year-old Elden shared he was “probably gonna get some money from it.” He recreated the iconic cover image as an adult in 2016 with 'Nevermind' tattooed on his chest.

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What is the lawsuit about?

According to Pitchfork, Elden in 2021 also sued the band for distribution of private sexually explicit materials, negligence, and what’s described as a “sex trafficking venture” where he “was forced to engage in commercial sexual acts while under the age of 18 years old.”
 
The lawsuit further states, “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.”

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Elden in 1991 received a platinum copy of the album ‘Nevermind’ along with a teddy bear by Geffen Records. For the unversed, he has recreated the legendary cover art with the word “Nevermind” tattooed on his chest several times in the past. Speaking in an interview with GQ Australia in 2016, he spoke about how he was unhappy with the artwork. “It’s f****d up,” he said, adding, “I’m pissed off about it, to be honest.” 

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