The man whose baby photo became an iconic part of music history after being featured on a Nirvana album cover is now suing the band.
Spencer Elden slapped Nirvana and everyone else involved in the cover art for the 1991 album “Nevermind” with accusations of child pornography when he filed a lawsuit for damages related to the photo on Tuesday.
Elden, now 30 years old, is best known for that nude photo of him as a baby submerged in a swimming pool, watching as a dollar bill floats on a hook nearby.
As pointed out in Variety, nude photos of infants that aren’t sexualized generally don’t fall under the category of child pornography, but Elden’s lawyer, Robert Y. Lewis, has pointed to the inclusion of a dollar bill in the photo to make the claim that it made baby Elden look “like a sex worker.”
While that connection may seem flimsy, considering the “Nevermind” cover is a famous image at this point and fairly well-known as a critique of capitalism, it isn’t the only angle taken in the lawsuit. Lewis and Elden have also claimed that the latter’s parents never signed a release form legally granting the band use of the image, for which they were only paid an initial $200 on the day of the shoot.
Elden has recreated the shoot on several occasions as both a child and an adult, albeit in swim trunks. The most recent recreation happened in 2016 for the album’s 25th anniversary.
“Recently I’ve been thinking, ‘What if I wasn’t OK with my freaking penis being shown to everybody?’” he told GQ Australia the same year. “I didn’t really have a choice.”
The lawsuit ultimately alleges that “Spencer’s true identity and legal name are forever tied to the commercial sexual exploitation he experienced as a minor which has been distributed and sold worldwide from the time he was a baby to the present day.”
As a result, Elden is seeking $150,000 in damages from each of a variety of people he alleges were involved in “Nevermind,” ranging from band members to photographer Kirk Weddle to various record companies.