The surviving members of NIRVANA as well as the estate of Kurt Cobain have been sued by Spencer Elden, the man who claims he was the baby featured on the cover of the band’s 1991 Nevermind album.
Elden alleges the image of the baby reaching for a dollar in a swimming pool violated federal child p*rnography statutes and argues child sexual exploitation.
“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.
Elden claims that his parents never signed a release authorizing the use of the photos, which were taken in a Pasadena aquatic center in 1990. He alleges that the band promised to cover his genitals with a sticker, which was never incorporated into the album art.
“To ensure the album cover would trigger a visceral sexual response from the viewer, photographer Kirk Kirk Weddle activated Spencer‘s ‘gag reflex’ before throwing him underwater in poses highlighting and emphasizing Spencer‘s exposed genitals,” the complaint states.
The suit further alleges the defendants “used child p*rnography depicting Spencer 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.”
Elden is seeking damages of either $150,000 from each of the 17 defendants or unspecified damages to be determined at trial, 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.
Elden‘s parents were reportedly paid only $200 for the photos, and the shoot lasted around 15 seconds.
Elden has recreated the album cover several times as a teenager and adult — always wearing swimming trunks — to mark Nevermind‘s 10th, 20th and 25th anniversaries.