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Nirvana sued by naked baby for child pornography

After claiming he wanted to make money off his nude appearance on the Nevermind cover, and using it as a pickup line, Spencer Elden is now suing Kurt Cobain’s estate

The man who appeared on the cover of Nirvana’s Nevermind album as a four-month-old baby is suing Kurt Cobain’s estate, alleging child pornography and sexual exploitation. Spencer Elden filed a lawsuit in a Los Angeles court against the band on Tuesday (August 24) regarding the infamous image of himself: a baby with his genitalia exposed grasping for a dollar bill.

Now 30, Elden is asking for damages of at least $150,000 from each of the 15 defendants, who include surviving members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, the managers of Cobain’s estate, Cobain’s former wife Courtney Love, and the album cover photographer Kirk Weddle.

“The images exposed Spencer’s intimate body part and lasciviously displayed Spencer’s genitals from the time he was an infant to the present day,” the legal papers claim. Under US law, non-sexualised photos of infants are generally not considered child pornography, but Elden’s legal team are arguing that the inclusion of the dollar (which was superimposed after the photo was taken) makes the minor seem “like a sex worker”.

The legal case also alleges that Nirvana had promised to cover Elden’s genitals with a sticker that read: “If you’re offended by this, you must be a closet paedophile”, but the agreement was not upheld.

In the lawsuit, Elden claims he has suffered “lifelong damages” and that his legal guardians never signed a release “authorising the use of any images of Spencer or of his likeness.” It continues: “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.”

Over the years, Elden has repeatedly drawn attention to his appearance on the cover. He’s recreated the photograph for the album‘s 10th, 20th, and 25th anniversaries, and has ‘Nevermindtattooed on his chest. He claimed in 2010 he was using the Nirvana connection to “make some money, I’m broke.” He’s boasted about how it “helps with girls”, and how he’s used pickup lines like: “You want to see my penis… again?”

“It is weird being part of such a culturally iconic image,” he told the Guardian in 2015, “because I didn’t really have anything to do with it. But it’s opened doors for me”, adding: “I am also glad it wasn’t for something like a Backstreet Boys album”. In a 2016 interview with GQ Australia, though, Elden revealed that he’d recently become unhappy about the artwork. “It’s fucked up,” he said. “I’m pissed off about it, to be honest. 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.”

In other Cobain news, the house in Aberdeen, Washington, where he grew up has officially been recognised as a historic site after being restored. Many of the rooms feature the original furniture and “period Seventies” fittings, while the outside will be decorated to recreate the original appearance.