CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After more than two decades, the man who gilded the Capitol dome had his day in the state Court of Claims Wednesday -- but did not get the settlement he was seeking.
Emmanuel Tsitsilianos is seeking about $108,000 of the $255,000 he claims his company is owed for the 1988-90 cleaning, restoration and gilding of the Capitol dome.
However, assistant attorney general Stacy Nowicki, representing the state, raised numerous issues against his claim on Wednesday -- including the fact the statute of limitations in the case has long since expired.
"This contract is over 25 years old ... and on top of that, this is a 14-year-old claim," she told Judge J. David Cecil.
Tsitsilianos said that even if he gets a settlement from the Court of Claims, his company, International Restoration Specialists, will have lost money on the project. His company was by far the low bidder for the contract, at $469,000, with five of the six bids for the project in excess of $1 million, including a high bid of $2.8 million.
"I did not come here to make money. I came here to save the dome," Tsitsilianos said Wednesday.
About five years after Tsitsilianos' company completed its work, large black streaks began appearing on the dome, which consultants hired by the state said was caused by improper gilding. Tsitsilianos contends the streaks were merely dirt and oil residue, which could have been chemically removed without harming the gold leaf.
In 2004, the state awarded a $5 million contract to Wiseman Construction for restoration of the Capitol dome. Completed in 2005, the dome was restored to architect Cass Gilbert's original design, with interior panels painted, instead of being entirely gilded.
On Wednesday, Tsitsilianos said he has a contract change order authorizing the additional $108,808 payment, but Nowicki argued it was invalid, since it had not been signed by either the state Purchasing Division or the Attorney General's Office.
Tsitsilianos also produced a 1992 payment contract from then-Administration Secretary Chuck Polan for $36,500, which he said he refused to sign, since it would have constituted a final payment for all money owed by the state.
"He never said to me, 'I don't want to pay you.' He just said, 'We don't have the money,'" Tsitsilianos told the court. "I couldn't take $36,000 for $108,000 owed, after coming down from $250,000."