The Baby from Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ Album Sues the Band

Spencer Elden, the man whose baby portrait is used for one of the most iconic album covers of all time, Nirvana’s Nevermind, has filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the band, the photographer of the shot and a couple of the labels that have been involved in the distribution of the album over the years. The lawsuit alleges that the nude photo of Elden as a baby constituted child pornography. 

The consensus reading of the album’s cover for years is that it is a comment on capitalism, an infant Elden is depicted underwater in a pool with his genitalia exposed, swimming towards a dollar bill on a fishhook. Elden’s lawyer, Robert Y. Lewis, has a different interpretation of the album art, saying that the inclusion of currency makes the infant appear “like a sex worker.” 

According to Variety the lawsuit reads, “defendants intentionally commercially marketed Spencer’s child pornography and leveraged the shocking nature of his image to promote themselves and their music at his expense.” The suit also points out that neither Elden nor his legal guardians signed a release allowing for the use of Elden or his likeness.

Variety also writes that Elden is asking for at least $150,000 from each of the defendants being sued, which includes surviving band members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic: Courtney Love, who is the executor of Kurt Cobain’s estate; the manegers of Cobain’s estate Guy Oseary and Heather Parry; photographer Kirk Weddle; art director Robert Fisher; and a number of active or now defunct record companies involved in the distribution of the album through the years. The suit also points out that neither Elden nor his legal guardians signed a release allowing for the use of Elden or his likeness

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