Nirvana and estate of Kurt Cobain are sued for exploitation claims over 1991 Nevermind album cover


Nirvana’s famous naked baby has SUED the band for child pornography after appearing on their iconic 1991 Nevermind album cover.   

Spencer Eldon, now 30, said Nirvana and the estate of Kurt Cobain ‘trafficked’ his image as a naked baby and is claiming $2.5million in damages for being ‘exploited as a minor’.  

In the suit, filed in Los Angeles federal court, Elden said his parents never gave their release in writing for the photos, and were not paid.

This is despite 2008 reports that photographer Kirk Weddle paid Elden’s father Rich $200 for 15 seconds of work to appear in the snap, according to NPR.   

The latest: Nirvana and estate of Kurt Cobain are being sued by Spencer Elden, a man, now 30, who was the baby seen on the group’s Nevermind album cover in 1991 (pictured)

Elden, a Los Angeles native, said that his ‘identity and legal name are forever tied to the commercial sexual exploitation he experienced as a minor which has been distributed and sold worldwide from the time he was a baby to the present day.’

He alleged that band members, record companies and creative personnel had ‘trafficked’ his image for profit, according to court documents reviewed by CBSLA.   

Elden said that ‘defendants failed to take reasonable steps to protect [him] and prevent his widespread sexual exploitation and image trafficking.’ 

The image was snapped in 1990 at the Pasadena aquatic center when he was four months old.

The famous album cover, which late lead singer Kurt Cobain picked out, shows a naked baby swimming underwater toward a dollar bill on a string. 

Legendary: Nirvana became one of the synonymous bands of the ‘grunge movement,’ and was formed of Dave Grohl, the late Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic (pictured in 1993)

Claims: Elden (pictured recreating his famous Nirvana cover) claimed that the band, record companies and creative personnel had 'trafficked' his image for profit

Claims: Elden (pictured recreating his famous Nirvana cover) claimed that the band, record companies and creative personnel had ‘trafficked’ his image for profit

Elden’s legal team said in the suit that ‘to ensure the album cover would trigger a visceral sexual response from the viewer, (photographer Kirk) Weddle activated Spencer’s “gag reflex” before throwing him underwater in poses highlighting and emphasizing Spencer’s exposed genitals.’

They added that ‘as an essential element of a record promotion scheme commonly utilized in the music industry to get attention, wherein album covers posed children in a sexually provocative manner to gain notoriety, drive sales, and garner media attention, and critical reviews.’

According to court docs reviewed by TMZ, the band had promised that a sticker would be placed on the area of the baby’s genitals, but didn’t place it on the cover. 

Shocking: In court documents, Elden said that 'defendants failed to take reasonable steps to protect [him] and prevent his widespread sexual exploitation and image trafficking'

Shocking: In court documents, Elden said that ‘defendants failed to take reasonable steps to protect [him] and prevent his widespread sexual exploitation and image trafficking’ 

Elden is asking for $150,000 from each of 17 defendants named in the suit, which include Cobain’s bandmates Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, the executor of Cobain’s estate, and the estate’s managers Guy Oseary and Heather Parry. 

Others include photographer Kirk Weddle; art director Robert Fisher and a number of record companies that released of distributed Nevermind in the past three decades. 

Elden is also thought to be suing artwork photographer Kirk Weddle and designer Robert Fisher, and Nirvana’s drummer from 1988 to 1990, Chad Channing. 

Since appearing on the cover, Elden has repeatedly recreated the image as both a teenager and an adult, but in many interviews has shared his mixed feelings about it.

In a 2016 interview with TIME to mark the album’s 25th Anniversary, he said: ‘It’s hard not to get upset when you hear how much money was involved.

‘[When] I go to a baseball game and think about it: ”Man, everybody at this baseball game has probably seen my little baby penis,” I feel like I got part of my human rights revoked.’ 

Elden added at the time that he attempted to reach out to the band, but never received a response. 

Nevermind famous uushered in the grunge era and sold more than 30 million albums for Geffen Records.

Vast sum: Elden is asking for $150,000 from each of 17 defendants named in the suit, which could total around $2.5 million (Nirvana are pictured performing)

Vast sum: Elden is asking for $150,000 from each of 17 defendants named in the suit, which could total around $2.5 million (Nirvana are pictured performing)

The album was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Performance, and it’s title single Smells Like Teen Spirit earned nods for Best Rock Song and Best Hard Rock Performance.

Nirvana went onto release their third album, In Utero, in 1993, and the following year they found success once again with their acclaimed album based on their MTV Unplugged set in New York.

The band performed their final concert as a trio in Munich in Germany on March 1, 1994, and just three days later Cobain’s wife Courtney Love found the musician unconscious in their hotel room, forcing the rest of the tour to be cancelled.

In the latter weeks Cobain’s struggles with heroin addiction began to resurface, and a week after leaving rehab, on April 8, 1994, he was found dead of a self-inflicted shotgun wound at his home in Seattle.

Soon after Cobain’s death Nirvana disbanded, and Grohl has gone onto form the band Foo Fighters. 

Star: Dave Grohl (pictured performing in Chicago last month) went onto form The Foo Fighters after Cobain's death in 1994

Star: Dave Grohl (pictured performing in Chicago last month) went onto form The Foo Fighters after Cobain’s death in 1994 

Children on Album covers: Where are they now? 

Led Zeppelin, Houses of the Holy 

The six children on the iconic 1973 Zeppelin album shot on Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland, are actually just a collage of two siblings Stefan and Samantha Gates who were five and seven at the time. 

Now Stefan is a cookery TV star, most notably for BBC2’s Cooking In The Danger Zone. He has admitted to finding the album’s artwork ‘disturbing and haunting’. 

Placebo, debut album

The 12-year-old boy in that red jumper tugging his cheeks is David Fox, an unemployed chef from Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire. 

His cousin was a professional photographer, and he took some photographs of my family for his personal use. 

 Vampire Weekend, Contra

The preppy-looking girl on Vampire Weekend’s 2010 album is former model Ann Kirsten Kennis in a Polaroid from 1983. 

The band loved the image but it came as a surprise to Kennis who only discovered her face was being used after her daughter bought the album home. The then 53-year-old who lives in Connecticut, sued photographer Tom Brody and the band for $2million. The band later settled out of court.  

KoRn

The girl on the swing from KoRn’s self-titled album was six years old in 1994 when the picture was taken.

The cover art shows a little girl alone on a swing set and a mischievous looking shadow of a man with tools on the ground. 

The girl was Justine Ferrara, who doesn’t remember much from the shoot except that man was actually nice for covering the light in front of her. The tools were added to the picture in post processing.

 



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