Spencer Elden, whose underwater photo as a baby featured in one of Nirvana’s most popular covers for the Nevermind album, has filed a case against the world famous band.
In his lawsuit, 30-year-old Mr Elden claims that he was sexually exploited for commercial reasons because his genitals were visible in the photo. The famous album cover shows Mr Elden as a naked baby swimming towards a dollar bill underwater. Mr Elden was only four months old when the photo was taken.
The lawsuit, which has been filed in a California district court, seeks damages of at least $150,000 from each of the 15 defendants. The defendants include surviving members of the band, Kurt Cobain’s widow Courtney Love, managers of Kurt Cobain’s estate, photographer Kirk Weddle and all the record labels that have distributed the album in the last three decades. Representatives of the defendants are yet to respond to the allegations.
The lawsuit alleges that Mr Elden’s parents neither got paid for the photo nor did they sign any form that allowed the band to use it. However, according to a report by The Guardian, Mr Elden’s family was earlier reported to have been paid $250 for the image.
Images of infants that do not have sexualised overtones are not considered child pornography as per the law in the USA. But Mr Elden’s lawyer argued that the dollar bill — which was superimposed on the photo — made the baby look “like a sex worker”, a BBC report said.
Mr Elden also alleged that the band had promised to cover his genitalia with a sticker. However, the promise wasn’t kept. He also claimed that he “has suffered and will continue to suffer lifelong damages” because of his linked identity with the popular album cover.
On his part, Mr Elden has tried to recreate the album photo by wearing swimming trunks, several times. At the age of 10, he recreated the image for Rolling Stones. In 2016, he did it again for the New York Post newspaper to mark the album’s 25th anniversary.
The world-famous band has almost a cult-like status among teens. The album is also on the list of best-selling music albums of all time, with over 30 million copies sold worldwide.(Nirvana)