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caption: Nirvana artifacts and exhibits are seen at the opening of In Bloom: The Nirvana Exhibition, at a London art gallery on Sept. 13, 2011.
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Nirvana artifacts and exhibits are seen at the opening of In Bloom: The Nirvana Exhibition, at a London art gallery on Sept. 13, 2011.
Credit: Getty Images

Man Photographed As A Baby On 'Nevermind' Cover Sues Nirvana For Sexual Exploitation

The cover for Nevermind, a 1991 Nirvana album that is said to have helped redefine rock music, features a naked 4-month-old baby in a pool, appearing to swim after a dollar bill that's pierced with a fish hook.

That baby — the now 30-year-old Spencer Elden — is suing Nirvana for child exploitation and pornography, saying the band knowingly distributed the naked photo of Elden as a baby and profited from it.


He's asking for $150,000 in damages against each of the defendants, which include members of the band, Kurt Cobain's estate, photographer Kirk Weddle, Universal Music, Geffen Records, Warner Records and MCA Music.

The cover photo was shot by Weddle, who was a friend of Elden's father. The lawsuit accuses Weddle of producing a "sexually graphic" photo of Elden. It adds that there was initially pushback against featuring Elden's genitals on the album cover and the plan was to place a sticker over it.

"The sticker, however, was never incorporated into the album cover," the lawsuit states.

Elden's parents also never signed a release authorizing the use of the image, and no one in the family received any compensation.

"Spencer's true identity and legal name are forever tied to the commercial sexual exploitation he experienced as a minor," Robert Lewis, Elden's attorney, writes in the lawsuit. [Copyright 2021 NPR]