Baby model on Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ album sues band for child sexual exploitation

Spencer Elden of Nirvana and Nevermind fame is now suing the band for at least $150,000 over alleged child sexual exploitation.

Spencer Elden claims that the photograph used in Nirvana’s game-changing 1991 album Nevermind is child pornography and that consent to use the image was never formally given.

Why he has decided to take action 30 years after its release has not been revealed.

spencer elden
Spencer Elden recreates the Nevermind album cover in 2016.
Image: Artnet

In fact, the lawsuit has popped up a mere month before the album is set to celebrate its 30th birthday.

The album cover, which accompanies one of the most famous records of all time, features the then four-month-old Spencer immersed underwater, fully naked, pursuing an American dollar bill hooked to a string.

It’s awfully artistic, and has been one of the most recognisable album covers of all time, sparking numerous parodies over the last three decades.

Apparently, Spencer is the son of a friend of the album’s photographer, Kurt Weddle. Nirvana’s label, Geffen, also initially objected to Spencer’s penis being visible, but lead singer Kurt Cobain insisted it was necessary.

At the time Cobain said that his only compromise on censoring the photo would be a strategically placed sticker that read: “If you’re offended by this, you must be a closet pedophile.”

As such, Elden is seeking a minimum $150,000 on the grounds that he was exploited and has now suffered lifelong damage as a result.

However, this is hard to believe. Only 5 years ago, Spencer recreated the icon photograph for the album’s 25th anniversary. He even went on to acknowledge that: “the anniversary means something to me.”

“It’s strange that I did this for five minutes when I was four months old and it became this really iconic image”.

Although, Spencer has been a little up and down about the situation for a while.

Several years ago, he complained that “it’s one thing to do an album cover with me, it’s another to do 30 million albums and then pretend like you don’t know me. I never met these guys. It’s kinda frustrating to pass it off like I didn’t exist.”