Naked baby from Nirvana Nevermind album art suing band for 'child pornography'

The baby who appeared on the cover of Nirvana's iconic album Nevermind is suing the surviving members of the band and the estate of late frontman Kurt Cobain, claiming the photo was 'child pornography', now referred to as child sexual abuse material (CSAM). 

Spencer Elden, who was photographed as a four-month-old baby swimming in a pool for the record artwork, claims he has suffered "lifelong damages" as a result. 

The lawsuit, which also names photographer Kirk Weddle and the label behind the release, states that Elden's legal guardians never signed a release form authorising the use of his image, dubbing the photo "commercial child pornography". 

According to the court documents which have been published online by Pitchfork, Elden is also suing for negligence, distribution of private sexually explicit materials, and what's described as a "sex trafficking venture" that claims he was "forced to engage in commercial sexual acts while under the age of 18 years old".

TMZ reports Elden is seeking at least US$150,000 in damages from each of the band members, Cobain's estate and others involved in the production of the album. 

The lawsuit states that the "permanent harm" suffered by Elden includes "extreme and permanent emotional distress with physical manifestations, interference with his normal development and educational progress, lifelong loss of income earning capacity, loss of past and future wages, past and future expenses for medical and psychological treatment and loss of enjoyment of life." 

Elden's cover photo on his Facebook page shows him smiling while posing underwater in a swimming pool in the same style as the iconic album cover. The now 30-year-old also has the word 'Nevermind' tattooed on his chest. 

According to Pitchfork, photographer Weddle was a friend of Elden's father Rick, which is how he ended up on the cover of Nevermind. He was reportedly sent a platinum copy of the album and a teddy bear by Geffen Records in 1991, when the record came out. 

In a 2016 interview with GQ Australia, Elden revealed he had become unhappy with his role in the Nevermind artwork. 

"It's f**ked up," Elden said at the time. "I'm pissed off about it, to be honest... I've been going through it my whole life. But recently I've been thinking, 'What if I wasn't OK with my freaking penis being shown to everybody?' I didn't really have a choice."

When asked by the interviewer when his stance on the artwork had changed, having previously been "cool" with it, Elden replied: "Just a few months ago, when I was reaching out to Nirvana to see if they wanted to be part of my art show".

"I was getting referred to their managers and their lawyers. Why am I still on their cover if I'm not that big of a deal?"