Spencer Elden, the former child model who appeared as a baby on the cover of Nirvana’s 1991 album Nevermind, is continuing his legal battle against the band. After a judge dismissed his previous lawsuit, he has now filed another complaint in which he has again alleged that the iconic album artwork was the product of “commercial child sexual exploitation”.
Now 30-years-old, Elden filed the original lawsuit against former Nirvana members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, as well as the estate of Kurt Cobain, in August 2021. It claimed that Elden’s guardians didn’t sign a release authorising the commercial use of the image while also maintaining that the defendant had violated child pornography statutes. Elden also claimed that he sustained injuries and “lifelong damages” due to his association with the photograph.
However, at the start of January, the judge dismissed the case with “leave to amend”. The ruling came after Elden’s legal team failed to submit an opposition to the Nirvana estate’s request to dismiss the suit before the deadline. However, the judge granted Elden “one last opportunity to amend his complaint.” The Nirvana estate, it has been reported, has until January 27th to reply to the refiled lawsuit.
According to Pitchfork, Elden’s amended complaint, which was filed on Wednesday, January 12th, no longer contains the claim that the defendants “knowingly [benefited] from participation in what they know or should know is a sex trafficking venture”.
The new suit alleges that Nirvana, Cobain’s estate, the photographer Kurt Weddle, 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.”
Elden’s attorney, USA Today reports, has stated that the new lawsuit includes new “images and materials” which will apparently “reveal the Nevermind creators’ deliberate choices to commercialise and exploit the sexually explicit photo lasciviously depicting Spencer’s genitals”.
Nirvana has previously denied all of Elden’s claims, citing numerous occasions where Elden welcomed being featured on the album cover when it benefited him financially.