Nirvana have filed an official response to a lawsuit brought by the man photographed as a baby for the cover of Nevermind.
Now a 30-year-old, Spencer Elden was photographed as a baby for the iconic 1991 album cover which shows him swimming naked while chasing a dollar bill.
Elden now claims he has suffered “lifelong damages” due to the album cover, which he calls “commercial child sexual exploitation” and compares to child pornography.
A statement has now been issued by legal representatives on behalf of Nirvana. They say that Elden’s case is beyond the statute of limitations and that he would have had to file the suit within 10 years of learning he was the baby pictured on the album cover. The reps refute the idea that he only learned this fact within the past 10 years.
“The Nevermind cover photograph was taken in 1991,” the statement reads. “It was world-famous by no later than 1992. Long before 2011, as Elden has pled, Elden knew about the photograph and knew that he (and not someone else) was the baby in the photograph. He has been fully aware of the facts of both the supposed ‘violation’ and ‘injury’ for decades.”
In the past, Elden has appeared to have been quite content with his appearance on the album cover, something Nirvana’s reps have cited.
“Elden has spent three decades profiting from his celebrity as the self-anointed ‘Nirvana Baby’,” they highlighted, along with pointing out he bears a Nevermind tattoo on his chest and has recreated the album cover on several occasions.
The band’s reps dismissed the accusation of child pornography as “not serious.”
“A brief examination of the photograph, or Elden’s own conduct (not to mention the photograph’s presence in the homes of millions of Americans who, on Elden’s theory, are guilty of felony possession of child pornography) makes that clear,” they said.
Elden is seeking $150,000 (£112k) in damages from drummer Dave Grohl, bassist Krist Novoselic, the estate of Kurt Cobain, album artwork photographer Kirk Weddle and designer Robert Fisher. He also requests that the album cover be changed for any future releases.
“If there is a 30th-anniversary re-release, he wants for the entire world not to see his genitals,” his lawyer said.
Ignoring the request, Nirvana re-released Nevermind for its 30th anniversary in November with the original image intact.
Legal experts expect Elden to lose out, chiefly due to his past actions in promoting himself as the baby pictured on the cover.
“What I think really damns the case is the fact that this kid sat for all these interviews and re-created the album art,” said entertainment lawyer Andrew Brettler.