A federal judge Friday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a man who, as a baby, had graced the cover of Nirvana’s seminal album, “Nevermind,” and argued 30 years later that the iconic photo of him drifting naked in a pool had been a form of sexual exploitation.

The man, Spencer Elden, 31, accused Nirvana in his complaint of engaging in child pornography after it used a photo of him for the cover of “Nevermind,” the 1991 album that catapulted the Seattle grunge rock band to international fame.

Judge Fernando Olguin wrote in his eight-page ruling that because Elden had learned about the album cover more than 10 years ago, he had waited too long to file his lawsuit, making his claims untimely.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against the estate of Kurt Cobain; the musician’s former bandmates, David Grohl and Krist Novoselic; and Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, among other parties. Bert Deixler, a lawyer for the defendants, said in a statement that they were “pleased this meritless case has been brought to a swift conclusion.”

Robert Lewis, one of Elden’s lawyers, did not respond to an email seeking comment Sunday.

The dismissal came after Olguin dismissed the case in January for another reason: Elden’s lawyers had missed a deadline to respond to a motion for dismissal by the lawyers for Nirvana.


Olguin had allowed Elden’s lawyers to file a second amended complaint to address “the alleged defects” in the defendants’ motion to dismiss.

But Friday’s dismissal appeared to end the legal back-and-forth.

Elden, an artist living in Los Angeles County, has gone to therapy for years to work through how the album cover affected him, his lawyers have said, arguing that his privacy had been invaded, according to court records.

He had been seeking $150,000 from each of the 15 people and companies named in the complaint.

The photo of Elden, who was then 4 months old, was picked from among dozens of pictures of babies by photographer Kirk Weddle. Cobain envisioned the album cover showing a baby underwater.

Weddle paid Elden’s parents $200 for the picture, which was later altered to show the baby chasing a dollar bill, dangling from a fishhook.

In the years that followed, Elden’s opinion about the photo changed. Initially, he appeared to celebrate his part in the classic cover, re-creating the moment for the album’s 10th, 17th, 20th and 25th anniversaries, though not naked.


“It’s cool but weird to be part of something so important that I don’t even remember,” he said in 2016 in an interview with the New York Post, in which he posed holding the album cover at 25.

He also expressed anger at the people who still talked about it, telling GQ Australia that he was not comfortable with people seeing him naked. “I didn’t really have a choice,” he said.

In their motion to dismiss, lawyers for Nirvana said that in 2003, when Elden was 12 years old, he acknowledged in an interview that he would probably always be known as the baby on the album cover.

According to the lawyers, he said at the time, “I’m probably gonna get some money from it.”