The Baby from Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ Cover Is Suing the Band for Child Pornography and Sexual Exploitation

The cover of Nirvana’s Nevermind is one of the most infamous record sleeves of all time, featuring a nude baby in a swimming pool chasing a dollar on the end of a hook. However, the baby, 30 years old this year, is now suing the band, citing child pornography and sexual exploitation statutes.

As reported by Pitchfork, Spencer Elden, the baby from Nevermind‘s cover, is suing Kurt Cobain’s estate and the remaining members of Nirvana, claiming that his appearance on the album cover has caused him “lifelong damages,” and that 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.” Elden is 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.”

According to the lawsuit, which also names Nirvana’s labels at the time and photographer Kirk Weddle, “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.”

According to a 2008 interview with Elden’s father Rick, Weddle was a friend who had him come over for a pool party with photo shoot attached: “[Weddle] calls us up and was like, ‘Hey Rick, wanna make 200 bucks and throw your kid in the drink. 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 Elden has recreated the cover in the past — here and here — but in a 2016 interview, Elden revealed he was unhappy about his participation, saying, “Recently I’ve been thinking, ‘What if I wasn’t OK with my freaking penis being shown to everybody?’
I didn’t really have a choice.” However, Elden then goes on to say his mind began to change when Nirvana were uninterested in taking part in his art show, saying, “Why am I still on their cover if
I’m not that big of a deal?”

More on this story as it unfolds.

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Words by Chris Krovatin