Spencer Elden, who was photographed as a baby for the cover of Nirvana‘s Nevermind, is suing the band for child pornography.
The suit, which was obtained and posted by Pitchfork, alleges Nirvana committed “commercial child sexual exploitation of [Elden] from while he was a minor to the present day” with the album artwork, which depicts the then-infant Elden swimming underwater naked while reaching for a dollar bill.
“Defendants knowingly produced, possessed, and advertised commercial child pornography depicting Spencer, and they knowingly received value in exchange for doing so,” the suit reads.
Defendants named in the suit include the late Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, who’s the executor of her husband’s estate, as well as drummer Dave Grohl, bassist Krist Novoselic and former member Chad Channing. Photographer Kirk Weddle, art director Robert Fisher and labels including Universal Music Group, Geffen Records, Warner Records and MCA Music are also named.
“Neither Spencer nor his legal guardians ever signed a release authorizing the use of any images of Spencer or of his likeness, and certainly not of commercial child pornography depicting him,” the suit reads. It also accuses Nirvana of specifically choosing to show Elden reaching for a dollar in an effort to depict him “like a sex worker.”
Nirvana nor any of its members have responded publicly to the suit as of Wednesday morning.
Nevermind was released September 24, 1991. It’s considered perhaps the most defining album of the ’90s grunge and alternative scene — if not the entire decade — and has been certified Diamond by the RIAA for over 10 million copies sold.
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