Nirvana lawsuit over Nevermind baby cover art dismissed by California judge

Spencer Elden claimed appearing on the cover had caused him ‘extreme and permanent emotional distress’

Roisin O'Connor
Tuesday 04 January 2022 17:36
'Nevermind' baby sues Nirvana for sexual exploitation
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The lawsuit against Nirvana by the man who appeared on the cover of their 1991 album Nevermind when he was a baby has been dismissed.

According to Spin magazine, a California judge dismissed the case filed by Spencer Elden “with leave to amend” on Monday 3 January.

Lawyers for Elden missed the deadline to file an opposition to Nirvana’s estate’s request to dismiss the case, which was made in December.

Elden claimed in his lawsuit that he had been the victim of child sexual exploitation, and that the iconic Nevermind cover art was a child sexual abuse image that had been “knowingly produced, possessed and advertised” by the band.

The cover image shows the infant Elden in a swimming pool reaching for a dollar bill with his genitals exposed. Elden has claimed that neither he nor his legal guardians signed a release authorising the use of “any images of Spencer or of his likeness”.

He also alleged that appearing on the cover had caused him “extreme and permanent emotional distress with physical manifestations”.

Lawyers representing Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, Courtney Love (as executor of the Kurt Cobain estate), photographer Kirk Weddle and UMG Recordings called for the case to be dismissed in a motion filed on 24 December.

They said that Elden had “spent three decades profiting from his celebrity as the self-anointed ‘Nirvana Baby’”, including recreating the photo for money and having “Nevermind” tattooed on his chest.

They also claimed that he was selling signed copies of the album on eBay and had used it as a line to pick up women.

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“Elden’s claim that the photograph on the Nevermind album cover is ‘child pornography’ is, on its face, not serious,” a joint statement said.

“A brief examination of the photograph, or Elden’s own conduct (not to mention the photograph’s presence in the homes of millions of Americans who, on Elden’s theory, are guilty of felony possession of child pornography) makes that clear.”

The court has said it will “grant defendants’ motion and give plaintiff one last opportunity to amend his complaint” by 13 January.

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