As previously reported, Spencer Elden, the man who appeared on the cover art for Nirvana’s “Nevermind” as a baby, recently filed a lawsuit against the surviving members of the band, the estate of the late Kurt Cobain, photographer Kirk Weddle, etc. due to child sexual exploitation and violations of federal child pornography statutes. Now, the band have responded by filing a motion to dismiss the suit.
The group and Kurt Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, said Elden’s child pornography claims are “not serious” and that they are “barred by the applicable statute of limitations.” The following was also added in the motion:
“Elden has spent three decades profiting from his celebrity as the self-anointed ‘Nirvana Baby.’ He has reenacted the photograph in exchange for a fee, many times; he has had the album title ‘Nevermind’ tattooed across his chest; he has appeared on a talk show wearing a self-parodying, nude-colored onesie; he has autographed copies of the album cover for sale on eBay; and he has used the connection to try to pick up women.
Elden’s claim that the photograph on the ‘Nevermind’ album cover is ‘child pornography’ is, on its face, 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.
The ‘Nevermind’ cover photograph was taken in 1991. 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 addition to his child pornography claim, Elden has alleged that the creation of the photograph for the album cover art entailed the sex trafficking of Elden when he was a baby. Setting aside that this premise is absurd, the statute Elden invokes to cover conduct in 1991, became effective on December 19, 2003 and has no retroactive application to conduct by a defendant that pre-dates its effective date.”
This news comes after Elden recently amended the suit. The updated complaint, which no longer lists ex-drummer Chad Channing, Warner Music, Heather Parry, Guy Oseary as defendants, still claimed that the photo was meant to “trigger a visceral sexual response from the viewer.” It went on to say that Weddle also took other photos of Spencer, including ones which found him dressed as late Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. Some of Cobain‘s personal journals were cited as well:
“Undated journals written by Cobain sketch the album cover in a sexual manner, with semen all over it. In several instances, the journals describe Cobain’s twisted vision for the Nevermind album cover, along with his emotional struggles: ‘I like to make incisions into the belly of infants then fuck the incision until the child dies.’”
Elden also claimed that the photo has caused “extreme and permanent emotional distress” and that his guardians never authorized its use. As a result, he was seeking at least $150,000 from each defendant.
Elden‘s lawyer Maggie Mabie was also demanding to have Universal remove his genitalia from all future releases of the album. However, the 30th anniversary edition of the record was still released with the cover intact.