Nirvana have issued an official response to the child-pornography lawsuit filed by Spencer Elden, who was photographed as a baby for the cover of the band’s seminal Nevermind album, calling his case “not serious” and saying he filed his suit after the statute of limitations expired.
The Nevermind album cover features a naked baby (Elden) in a swimming pool chasing after a dollar bill on a fishing line. Nevermind sold more than 30 million copies, and its cover became one of the most famous images of all time. In August, Elden filed a lawsuit against the band, alleging they “knowingly produced, possessed and advertised commercial child pornography depicting Spencer, and they knowingly received value in exchange for doing so.”
The surviving members of Nirvana and the late Kurt Cobain‘s estate evidently believe Spencer’s claims are bogus. “Elden has spent three decades profiting from his celebrity as the self-anointed ‘Nirvana Baby,'” the band wrote in a new statement (via Billboard). They also cited Elden’s Nevermind chest tattoo and his multiple recreations of the album cover in adulthood, and alleged that he “used the connection to try to pick up women.”
Nirvana further note that the statute of limitations for a federal child-pornography lawsuit is 10 years from the point that a victim “reasonably discovers” it, which means Elden would have realized the cover was problematic in 2011 (when he was 20 years old). Given the stratospheric success of Nevermind in the ’90s, the band claims this is unlikely.
“But the Nevermind cover photograph was taken in 1991. It was world-famous by no later than 1992,” the band continued. “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.”
Billboard noted that Nirvana could be preparing a more thorough response to Elden’s suit based on a more fundamental argument: that the Nevermind cover does not constitute child pornography.
“Elden’s claim that the photograph on the Nevermind album cover is ‘child pornography’ is, on its face, not serious,” the band wrote. “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.”
In October, Dave Grohl admitted he hadn’t given the Nevermind lawsuit much thought. “I think that there’s much more to look forward to and much more to life than getting bogged down in those kinds of things,” he said. “And, fortunately, I don’t have to do the paperwork.”
Top 30 Grunge Albums
From Nirvana and Neil Young to Melvins and Mudhoney — the best works to come from the ’90s movement.