Elden, who was famously photographed as a baby on the cover to 1991’s Nevermind, first filed a lawsuit in August 2021 against the band’s surviving members, Kurt Cobain’s widow Courtney Love, and Nirvana associates. Elden, who is now 30, alleged that the image of his four-month-old self underwater with exposed genitals was child pornography, and said that by distributing it worldwide Nirvana had engaged in a “sex trafficking venture.”
Nirvana’s surviving members, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, as well Love, filed a motion to dismiss Elden’s lawsuit on December 22nd. They argued that the suit was “not serious,” filed years after the federal statute of limitations had run out, and stood in stark contrast to Elden’s previous embracement of the cover.
Elden and his lawyers failed to respond to Nirvana’s motion by the court’s December 30th deadline, leading the judge in the case to grant the band’s motion. However, Elden had the option to refile an amended lawsuit by January 13th, which he has apparently now done (via Rolling Stone).
In the amended lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, Elden claims that Nirvana “intentionally commercially marketed the child pornography depicting Spencer and leveraged the lascivious nature of his image to promote the Nevermind album, the band, and Nirvana’s music, while earning, at a minimum, tens of millions of dollars in the aggregate.” However, the new complaint omits the sex trafficking claim.
In addition to seeking monetary compensation, Elden has requested that the cover artwork be changed for all future re-releases of Nevermind.
In a motion responding to Elden’s initial lawsuit, Nirvana’s lawyers argued that, “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…. “There is no doubt that Elden’s claims will fail on the merits.”