‘Nevermind’ baby Spencer Elden refiles cover art lawsuit against Nirvana

A judge dismissed Elden's original suit, which accused Nirvana and others of “commercial child sexual exploitation”, earlier this month

Spencer Elden, who appeared as a baby in the cover art for Nirvana‘s 1991 album ‘Nevermind’, has filed another complaint after a judge dismissed his previous lawsuit, in which he alleged the photograph and its use was “commercial child sexual exploitation” and child pornography.

Elden, who is now 30 years old, filed a lawsuit against surviving Nirvana members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, along with the estate of Kurt Cobain, back in August of last year. The lawsuit alleged Elden’s guardians never signed a release authorising the commercial use of the photograph, that the defendants had “violated” federal child pornography statutes, and that Elden sustained “injuries” and “lifelong damages” as a result.

Earlier this month, a judge rejected the case “with leave to amend” in a U.S. District Court in Central California. It came after Elden’s legal team failed to meet a deadline to file an opposition to the Nirvana estate’s request to dismiss the suit.

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At the time of the dismissal, the court said Elden would be granted “one last opportunity to amend his complaint”. At the time, it was reported that Nirvana’s estate has until January 27 to reply to the refiled suit.

Nirvana
Cover of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’. CREDIT: Nirvana/Universal Music

Pitchfork reports that Elden filed a second, amended complaint on Wednesday (January 12), removing a claim that the defendants “knowingly [benefited] from participation in what they know or should know is a sex trafficking venture”.

The new complaint alleges that Nirvana, Cobain’s estate, Kurt Weddle (who took the photograph used on the ‘Nevermind’ cover) and multiple record labels “intentionally commercially marketed the child pornography depicting Spencer and leveraged the lascivious nature of his image to promote the Nevermind album, the band, and Nirvana’s music, while earning, at a minimum, tens of millions of dollars in the aggregate.”

Per USA Today, Elden’s attorneys say in a press release that the amended lawsuit includes new “images and materials” which they say “reveal the ‘Nevermind’ creators’ deliberate choices to commercialize and exploit the sexually explicit photo lasciviously depicting Spencer’s genitals”.

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In a statement issued last month in response to the original complaint, representatives for Nirvana refuted the claims, saying the lawsuit was “not serious” and was beyond the statute of limitations.

The suit would only apply within 10 years of Elden finding out he was the baby on the cover art, with representatives for Nirvana rejecting the idea that he had only discovered this in the last decade.

They went on to cite occasions where Elden had seemingly embraced being featured on the album art, claiming that he’d “spent three decades profiting from his celebrity as the self-anointed ‘Nirvana Baby’”.

“He has recreated the photograph for a fee many times; the title of the album Nevermind has been tattooed on his chest; has appeared on a talk show with a flesh-colored jumpsuit who parodies himself; has autographed copies of the album cover for sale on eBay, and he has used the connection to try to pick up women,” the statement read.

“There is no doubt that Elden’s claims will fail on the merits.”

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