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Who is the Nirvana baby and why is he suing the band?

Spencer Elden, whom Nirvana fans will remember as the naked baby on the iconic album cover- Nevermind- is suing the band for child sexual exploitation.

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Who is the Nirvana baby and why is he suing the band?
SEBASTIEN VUAGNAT AFP

The image of a naked baby swimming towards a dollar bill, became one of the most iconic album covers of the band’s history. Now, thirty years after the publication of the Nirvana album, the main character of the portrait Spencer Elden is suing the band members who are still alive and several others that contributed in the covers distribution, alleging the image created by the band was child pornography as it features him as a naked baby with his genitals notably visible.

Elden seeks compensation for "lifelong damages"

According to the lawsuit, Elden is seeking $150,000 compensation from each of the fifteen people sued (in addition to the costs) for the damages “he has suffered from the 1991 cover over the years and is going to carry on suffering for the rest of his life, including “extreme and permanent emotional distress with physical manifestations, plus loss of education, wages, and “enjoyment of life”.

Elden also claims he was never paid for the shoot and her parents never signed a release form for the image. Information that contrasts with the $250 Elden would have been paid according to what was previously reported.

This is an issue of consent – something that our client never had the opportunity to give,”Elden’s lawyer Marsh Law said.

Commercial child sexual exploitation

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of “commercial child sexual exploitation from while he was a minor to the present day … defendants knowingly produced, possessed and advertised commercial child pornography depicting Spencer” making him resemble “a sex worker – grabbing for a dollar bill”.

“I’m still in contact with Spencer. I used to think, ‘man, when that kid is 16 he’s gonna hate my guts!’ He doesn’t, but he’s conflicted about the picture. He feels that everybody made money off it and he didn’t. I think he deserves something. But it’s always the record labels that make the money,” said photographer Kirk Weddle, who took the shot for the cover thirty years ago.

Is Elden still chasing the dollar?

Spencer Elden have manifested his thoughts on the cover way before the unexpected lawsuit was filled thirty years after. In fact, his opinions are so disparate that many people don't believe what he is claiming nowadays.

It is kind of creepy that many people have seen me naked.” Elden said in a 2007 interview with the Sunday Times.  "It’s always been a positive thing and opened doors for me," said Elden in 2015

"I feel like the world’s biggest porn star.”

Spencer Elden

In 2016, Elden said in another statement, “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.”

Despite all the controversy regarding the issue, no public response has been forthcoming by the defendants as yet.