The baby featured on the cover of Nirvana’s 1991 album Nevermind, now 30-year-old Spencer Elden has filed suit against the band and others for sexual exploitation. He is asking for $150,000 in damages from each of the defendants, including Kurt Cobain’s estate, members of Nirvana, photographer Kirk Weddle, Universal Music, Geffen Records, Warner Records and MCA Music. There are 15 defendants in total.
Elden has stated that the defendants knowingly distributed the nude photo of him as a 4-month-old baby and profited from it. According to the lawsuit, Elden’s parents never signed a release authorizing the use of the image, and Elden himself never received any compensation.
Elden had the word “Nevermind” tattooed on his chest and has recreated the image several times over the years but has consistently mentioned his discomfort with the image in interviews. For example, Elden said, “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,” to the New York Post. And in a 2016 interview with GQ Australia, he said, “It’s fucked up. I’m pissed off about it, to be honest.”
“Spencer’s true identity and legal name are forever tied to the commercial sexual exploitation he experienced as a minor,” wrote Elden’s attorney Robert Lewis in the lawsuit.