Spencer Elden, the man who was the naked baby on the cover of Nirvana album Nevermind, has filed a lawsuit against the surviving members of the band. He wants the album art changed for any future re-releases, his lawyer has revealed.
It was announced yesterday (August 25) that Elden, now 30, has opened legal action against Nirvana and the late frontman, Kurt Cobain’s estate, as well as other individuals and entities. The lawsuit claims that the use of the image of Elden as a naked baby on the artwork amounts to “commercial child sexual exploitation”.
The suit maintains that the band and the other defendants “violated” federal child pornography laws in using the image. It also argues that Elden sustained “injuries” and “lifelong damages” resulting from the album’s massive success.
The lawsuit argues: “Neither Spencer nor his legal guardians ever signed a release authorising the use of any images of Spencer or of his likeness,” it states, before adding: “And certainly not of commercial child pornography depicting him.”
One of Elden’s attorneys, Maggie Mabie, told The Associated Press: “If there is a 30th anniversary re-release, he wants for the entire world not to see his genitals.”
Mabie’s comment comes in the wake of bassist Krist Novoselic teasing a 30th-anniversary reissue of the Nevermind back in June. In a different interview, Mabie told The New York Times that Eldren is “asking for Nirvana to do what Nirvana should have done 30 years ago and redact the images of his genitalia from the album cover.”
Mabie also claimed that “Cobain agreed to redact Spencer’s image” with a sticker displaying the text: “If you’re offended by this, you must be a closet paedophile”. However, the album was released without the sticker.
In The New York Times, Mabie accepted that Elden had in the past agreed to recreate and discuss the photograph as an adult, but that he eventually realised that this resulted in the “image of him as a baby being further exploited”.
Elden has also displayed his discomfort towards the photograph. In 2008, when he was 17, he told MTV News: “It’s kind of creepy (to think) that that many people have seen me naked,” he said, before adding: “I feel like I’m the world’s biggest porn star.”