Nirvana: Each Band Member’s Net Worth and How Much They’re Being Sued for

They say you either die a hero, or live long enough to become the villain. No one is perfect, and time reveals all flaws. In Spencer Elden’s case, things have come full circle.  Elden was featured on Nirvana’s Nevermind album cover as a baby. According to Variety, now he’s suing the band. He’s alleging that the cover was actually child pornography, and he’s demanding a modest sum from the members of the former grunge band. The ironic part? The picture of Elden on the cover is a statement on the dangers of capitalism and greed. 

‘Nevermind’ features a picture of a naked baby 

Violet Grohl, Dave Grohl, Beck, St. Vincent, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear
Violet Grohl, Dave Grohl, Beck, St. Vincent, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear | Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for DG

For their second studio album, Nirvana decided to do a few things differently. First, the original drummer left the band. Chad Channing was replaced with rocker Dave Grohl in 1990. Second, Nirvana decided to give their album, Nevermind, one of the most memorable album covers of all time. 

On the cover, a naked baby swims in a pool of clear blue water towards a dollar bill on a hook. The baby’s genitals are on full display, but that isn’t what draws the eye to the cover. The photograph is a stark indictment of capitalism and materialism. Nirvana is clearly stating that the evils of capitalism corrupt even the most innocent among us. 

Elden is the baby in the photo. The original picture was just baby Elden swimming. It was digitally altered to include the dollar bill on the fish hook. At the time the picture was taken by photographer Kirk Weddle, Elden’s parents were completely on board. They were paid $200 for Elden’s modeling work. 

Spencer Elden is suing Nirvana

Now, decades after the picture was originally taken, Elden is suing Nirvana for using his picture on their album cover. His representation claims that the image is actually child porn. It is important to note that not all images of naked children constitute child porn. There is a legal difference between art and pornography. Nirvana will obviously claim that the image is art. 

Elden’s lawyers disagree, and they’re asking for $150,000 from a lot of people. They’re suing the two living members of Nirvana, Grohl and Krist Novoselic. Kurt Cobain’s estate, and its representatives, are named as well. Elden is suing the photographer who took the picture, the art director who was on set, and any company that distributed the album. He’s also suing former drummer Channing, even though the poor guy didn’t have anything to do with the picture. It seems like the only people not listed in the lawsuit are Elden’s parents, who agreed to the photoshoot in the first place. 

Will Kurt Cobain’s estate pay for the lawsuit?

Cobain died with a net worth of around $50 million. Thanks to some smart investing, that has grown to $450 million. Elden’s representatives may have asked for $150,000 hoping that their millionaire defendants would just pay to avoid a trial. Grohl is worth $320 million, and according to, Novoselic is worth $80 million. Surely $150,000 is a drop in the bucket to them. 

Even if he does get the money, there’s no way Elden comes out of this looking good. He has often used the fact that his picture was on the Nirvana album cover for clout, and even recreated the photo at least three times. The fact that the picture was meant to decry the dangers of capitalism just makes the whole situation more ironic. It seems that Elden is chasing the dollar bill on the hook, just like in his iconic photo. 

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