Nirvana 'Nevermind' baby files another lawsuit after case is thrown out by judge

Nirvana perform with Joan Jett at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2014
Nirvana perform with Joan Jett at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2014 Copyright Reuters
By Shannon McDonagh with Reuters
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Spencer Elden – who features on the iconic cover as a naked baby – has doubled down on his case against the band after accusing them of exploitation.


The man depicted as a naked baby on Nirvana's 1991 album 'Nevermind' has revived his lawsuit accusing the band of sexually exploiting him, after a US judge dismissed an earlier version of the case.

Spencer Elden – whose family were paid $250 (€218) for the original image – amended the reasons for his original claim after it was thrown out by a judge earlier this month.

He states that the "lascivious nature of his image" amounted to "child pornography" that helped the band reap tens of millions of dollars at his expense.

Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl and bassist Krist Novoselic; Courtney Love, the widow of Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain; several record labels, and photographer Kirk Weddle are among the 10 defendants. Elden is seeking at least $150,000 (€110,000) from each.

Lawyers for the defendants did not immediately respond on Thursday to requests for comment.

What is different about this lawsuit?

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
Surviving Nirvana members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic are among the defendants named in the lawsuitChris Pizzello/Invision/AP

The 'Nevermind' cover art depicted Elden, then four months old, swimming naked toward a dollar bill pierced with a fish hook, an image Elden has said caused him "lifelong damages."

Elden's lawsuit no longer accuses Nirvana of violating a 2003 federal law against child sex trafficking, after the defendants said that law could not be applied retroactively.

Nirvana's defence tore down the original claim, arguing that Elden has spent three decades profiting from his celebrity.

"He has reenacted the photograph in exchange for a fee, many times; he has had the album title ‘Nevermind’ tattooed across his chest; he has appeared on a talk show wearing a self-parodying, nude-colored onesie; he has autographed copies of the album cover for sale on eBay; and he has used the connection to try to pick up women," they said.

The latest lawsuit includes a declaration from art director Robert Fisher, describing a stock photo he used for a mockup for the 'Nevermind' cover that depicted a different baby and did not show his penis.

Elden said the band decided to create its own photo to save money, with Cobain sardonically suggesting that the cover include a warning sticker saying: "If you're offended by this, you must be a closet pedophile."

Fisher was dismissed as a defendant last month.

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