The baby that Nirvana used on its iconic cover for their album Nevermind is taking the band to court.
Spencer Elden, now 30, is suing for alleged sexual exploitation, calling out the band for what his legal team claims was child pornography after they used his image on their cover and failed to hide his penis with a sticker.
The infamous cover depicts a fully naked baby swimming underwater toward a dollar bill on a fishhook, an image largely considered to be a bucking of capitalism.
Elden’s lawyer alleges that the depiction of a naked baby honing in on the money makes the shot appear as if the child is a sex worker, although the use of nude babies for art is not considered unlawful in California unless the image is sexualized.
Each of 15 separate defendants is currently being asked to pay $150,000 to Elden for personal damages.
The charges extend to surviving band members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, Chad Channing — who Grohl replaced as drummer in 1990 — Kurt Cobain’s widow and executor of his estate Courtney Love, managers of Cobain’s estate Guy Oseary and Heather Parry, photographer Kirk Weddle, art director Robert Fisher, and several existing or previously existing record companies that sold the album in the past thirty years.
Nirvana fans are not happy with the lawsuit and have taken to Twitter to express their feelings
Fans of Nirvana had a lot to say when news of the suit hit the internet and many took to Twitter to express their thoughts.
“1st-No one knew who that baby was until YOU decided to file a lawsuit. 2nd-It took you 30 years to realize you are embarrassed? 3rd-Did you also file a lawsuit against your parents for allowing this? All I see in an innocent baby in a pool. All he sees is dollar signs!,” one fan lamented in response to the post made by People magazine.
Another user tweeted their dismay regarding the lawsuit, saying, “This is a money grab. Nothing more. To call it ‘child porn’ is a ridiculous attempt to inflame emotion. Absolutely no one could guess he was “that baby” unless he told them.”
‘Never signed a release’
Many other fans echoed similar views, with some questioning why Elden never went after his own parents for allowing his image to be used by the band and others wondering why the accuser has chosen to pursue the suit after so many decades have gone by.
However, the lawsuit alleges that Elden’s parents never signed documents allowing use of the image, and that he was never compensated for it — although his parents reportedly received $200 on the day of the shoot.
“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 lawsuit reads.
Elden himself has recreated the iconic photo several times, posing underwater with his arms outstretched to match his pose as a baby. In 2016, Elden admitted to the New York Post that he had originally wanted to do the recreation he did that year nude but then “thought that would be weird” and so threw on some swim trunks.