The image of Spencer Elden, then a baby just a few months old swimming naked in a pool chasing a dollar bill, became one of the most recognizable and reproduced album covers of all time. Now, 30 years after the publication of that Nirvana album titled Nevermind, the protagonist of that photograph has decided to sue the American gang for considering that this snapshot constitutes a crime of child pornography. Elden is seeking compensation for, according to the lawsuit, “damages he has suffered and will continue to suffer for life.”
The popular photograph was the brainchild of the group’s ill-fated leader, Kurt Cobain. The idea was to represent a newborn who, despite being underwater, defenseless, naked, was chasing money, as he told The Guardian the man in charge of the capture, Kirk Weddle. The reading that was made of that image was that of a critique of capitalism. However, Robert Y. Lewis, Elden’s attorney, offers an unusual interpretation to argue that he crosses the line into child pornography, claiming that the inclusion of money in the photograph makes the baby appear to be represented “as a sex worker.”
“The defendants promoted Spencer’s child pornography in an intentional and commercial way and made use of the shocking nature of his image to promote themselves and their music at Spencer’s expense,” says the complaint filed in a Californian court and that has been collected. by American media. Among those identified by this complaint are Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, who together with the legendary and disappeared Kurt Cobain (1967-1994) made up the classic line-up of Nirvana, reports Efe.
Strangely, the complaint also accuses Chad Channing, who was a drummer for Nirvana in its early years and who left the band in 1990, that is, before it was released. Nevermind.
It is not the first time that Elden, who was four months old when the photograph was taken and has the floor Nevermind Tattooed on his chest, he shows mixed feelings about the image, for which his parents received 200 dollars, about 170 euros. In 2016, in an interview with the magazine Time, showed his dissatisfaction for not having received financial compensation in accordance with having starred on the cover of an album that has sold 30 million copies worldwide and that has been reproduced on all kinds of official products of the band. “Everyone involved has tons and tons of money. I feel like I’m the last bit of rock grungeElden said. “I live at my mother’s house and I drive a Honda Civic.” Even the photographer himself, Weddle, with whom he maintained contact over the years as a friend of his parents, assured in the conversation with The Guardian that Elden feels “that everyone made money from it and he did not.”
Despite the complaint, Elden has recreated the cover in question on several occasions, such as for the magazine Rolling Stone and on the 25th anniversary of the album’s release, in 2016, when he proposed to also appear naked as in the original image, although finally, and by decision of the photographer, he did so wearing a swimsuit and flowing hair. “He thought it would be strange, so I put on my swimsuit,” he said at the time to The New York Post.