Spencer Elden

'Nirvana Baby' Spencer Elden Loses Lawsuit Over Infamous 'Nevermind' Album Cover

Home / Entertainment / 'Nirvana Baby' Spencer Elden Loses Lawsuit Over Infamous 'Nevermind' Album Cover

By Taylor Hodgkins on September 6, 2022 at 10:15 PM EDT

As the refrain from Nirvana's seminal 1991 hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit" goes, "Oh well, whatever, never mind."

Those lyrics could apply to the outcome of the lawsuit filed by Spencer Elden regarding the album cover that made him famous.

Elden, now 31, appeared on the memorable album cover of Nirvana's groundbreaking sophomore album "Nevermind" before he was a year old.

The cover famously features Elden's genitals, which set off a firestorm of controversy upon its release in September.

Nirvana and Geffin Records had been at odds about "Nevermind"s cover art from the beginning. According to Farout Magazine, the late Nirvana frontman had been studying water births and wanted to incorporate the concept into the album cover.

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The outlet revealed Cobain had agreed to leave off Elden's genitals from the cover if "there would be a sticker covering the genitalia reading 'if you're offended by this, you must be a closet pedophile.'"

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What Did Elden Think About The Infamous Cover As An Adult?

Nirvana Nevermind cover art
Geffen Records

As an adult, Elden filed a lawsuit against the band over three decades after "Nevermind's" release.

The lawsuit had been filed for the first time last year. According to The Guardian, Elden initially filed against Nirvana members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, Cobain's widow Courtney Love, and his estate.

Elden had alleged he had experienced "permanent harm and a life-long loss of income earning capacity" and the lawsuit also stated, "Defendants knowingly produced, possessed, and advertised commercial child pornography depicting Spencer."

Elden's lawsuit also brought up his inability to consent to the photo being taken.

Grohl was not phased when he commented on the lawsuit in October of last year.

According to Loudwire, Grohl had spoken about the lawsuit in an interview with Vulture.

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"I don't know that I can speak on it because I haven't spent too much time thinking about it," Grohl said. "I feel the same way most people do [about the lawsuit's allegations] in that I have to disagree. That's all I'll say."

Grohl maintained his stance when he mentioned Elden had a permeant preservation of the album cover.

"Listen, he's got a 'Nevermind' tattoo. I don't."

After the lawsuit had been thrown out, per The Guardian, by Judge Fernado Olguin, Elden refiled the lawsuit in January 2022. The publication revealed Elden would be unable to refile the lawsuit due to Olguin's ruling.

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What Was The Lawsuit's Outcome?

Olguin's ruling read, "In short, because it is undisputed that [Elden] did not file his complaint within 10 years after he had discovered a violation... the court concludes that his claim is untimely," the ruling began, according to Rolling Stone via People.

The ruling continued, "Because plaintiff had an opportunity to address the deficiencies in his complaint regarding the statute of limitations, the court is persuaded that it would be futile to afford plaintiff a fourth opportunity to file an amended complaint."

Elden's lawyer, Margaret Mabie, took issue with the final ruling and weighed in.

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Mabie spoke to People magazine and said, the "lawsuit was dismissed based on a misunderstanding of the statute of limitations. This ruling's interpretation of the statute of limitations on Masha's law contravenes over fifteen years of well-settled precedent and the legislature's intended purpose of law."

Mabie continued, "Under this reading of the law, child pornography remedies vaporize once the victim in the contraband image turns 28 years old. Under this logic, any child pornography producer- such as Masha Allen's original abuser- could simply wait out the clock and then re-distribute abusive material with impunity."

"Spencer's victimization as a child remains frozen in time," the statement went on to say, "His childhood self continues to be invaded and he will be repeatedly victimized as long as the 'Nevermind' album cover continues to be distributed."

"Nevermind" was originally released on September 24th, 1991, and had been reissued for its 30th anniversary. The reissue is available as both an eight LP edition and as a five CD edition per Rolling Stone. 

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