Nirvana album cover: Naked baby ‘Nevermind’ loses case after judge dismisses child pornography claim


A federal court in California has dismissed a lawsuit alleging the cover art for rock band Nirvana’s 1991 album “Nevermind” constitutes child pornography.

Spencer Elden, 31, who appeared nude on the album cover as a baby, has sued the band for “commercial sexual exploitation of children”.

However, his lawsuit was thrown out on Friday when a judge ruled that Elden filed his lawsuit after the 10-year statute of limitations had expired.

“Accordingly, plaintiff’s action will be dismissed without leave to amend,” said Fernando M. Olguin, United States District Judge for the Central District of California, in a ruling obtained by CNN.

Elden’s attorney told CNN he plans to appeal the dismissal.

The cover of “Nevermind,” on which the child Elden appeared swimming underwater with his eyes fixed on a dollar bill, has become one of rock music’s most enduring images.

In the original lawsuit, filed Aug. 24, 2021, Elden’s attorneys said the image was pornographic and that he suffered “lifetime damages” as a result of his involvement.

Elden listed the surviving band members, the executor of singer Kurt Cobain’s estate, and various record companies as defendants.

After the complaint was dismissed, a second amended complaint sought damages for what Elden called “permanent loss of earning capacity, loss of past and future wages, past and future expenses for medical and psychological conditions, loss of enjoyment of life and other losses”. to describe and prove during the trial of this case.

The lawsuit alleged that Elden was sexualized because the image of the naked baby grabbing the dollar bill made the baby look like “a sex worker.”

Elden occasionally recreated the image during his adulthood, but he also suggested in interviews that he felt uncomfortable with the popularity of the album cover.

In 2007 he told the UK’s Sunday Times that he found it “a bit scary that a lot of people have seen me naked…I feel like the biggest porn star in the world”. The following year, he told CNN he was often invited to attend events as “baby Nirvana.”

“Nevermind” and its lead single “Smells Like Teen Spirit” sold millions of copies and helped popularize grunge music in the United States. Its content and artwork were heralded as seminal rock works, but three years after its release Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain died by suicide in Seattle and the remaining members subsequently disbanded.

Elden told CNN in 2008, “Cobain was rumored to have the original concept of wanting to show a mother giving birth underwater.” Elden added: “But the compromise was to have a baby swimming underwater. Or so I was told.

The lawsuit alleged that Elden “has and will continue to suffer personal injury from the possession, transportation, reproduction, advertising, promotion, presentation, distribution, provision and ‘obtaining child pornography representing him by the defendants’.

Cobain’s wife, singer Courtney Love, was listed in the lawsuit as executor of Cobain’s estate, alongside others including photographer Kirk Weddle and record labels Universal Music Group, MCA Records and Geffen Records. CNN has reached out to those parties for comment.