Releasing the pictures would “violate the Cobain family’s due process rights under the 14th Amendment,” according to the Washington State Court of Appeals, which said they were exempt from the state’s Public Records Act.
Cobain’s widow Courtney Love and daughter Frances Bean Cobain, who was a toddler at the time of his death, filed testimonies to keep the photos from being made public.
The ruling comes after Seattle journalist Richard Lee appealed the case’s dismissal.
Lee has pursued the release of 55 photos in an attempt to prove Cobain did not die from suicide in 1994, but rather was killed.
Still instantly recognisable as one of as one of the most iconic faces of the 1990s and the most important musician of the grunge scene, the 27-year-old rock star’s body was discovered by an electrician on 8 April 1994, at his cottage overlooking Lake Washington in Seattle.
He had a single gunshot to the head. A gun and suicide note were found nearby.
He wrote: “The fact is I can’t fool you. The worst crime I can think of would be to rip people off by faking it.”
Seattle: Seeking Nirvana
It was later ruled that he had been dead for at least 34 hours.
The troubled singer, who achieved global fame with his band’s 1991 release of the album “Nevermind”, had struggled with the band’s sudden success. It appeared to increase Cobain’s deep-seated anxieties and his sense of inner conflict.
A month before his death, he survived a drug and alcohol-induced coma in Rome.
Despite a raft of conspiracy theories suggesting he had been murdered, the police report said he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
They said he had apparently barricaded himself into a granny flat behind the property, put a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.