‘Nevermind‘ was Nirvana’s second studio album and was released in 1991. The cover of the album became a rock icon, featuring a nude baby (Elden) underwater with a $1 note.
The filing accuses the band of “commercial child sexual exploitation” and said the image of Elden has caused “lifelong damages”. Some of the damages cited were “extreme and permanent emotional distress with physical manifestations”, as well as a loss of education, wages and “enjoyment of life”.
Spencer Elden’s lawyer alleges the image portrays him as a “sex worker”.
The lawsuit claims that Elden’s parents never signed a release for the use of the image. It also says that Elden – who is now 30 – has never been paid for his appearance on the cover.
Elden is seeking a minimum of $150,000 in damages from each of the defendants.
He has recreated the Nirvana cover image on multiple occasions. In 2016 he recreated the cover for a New York Post article to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the album’s release. He also recreated the image for Rolling Stone, as well as to mark the album’s 10th and 20th anniversaries.
In every recreation Elden wore swimming trunks.
This is not the first time that Elden has expressed some discomfort over the image.
In 2007 he told the Sunday Times it was “kind of creepy that many people have seen me naked. I feel like the world’s biggest porn star”.
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