Last month, Tiller was back on the world's largest beach, this time in Qatar, on an errand to sell bottled water. "The people are nowhere near what you read about, what you hear about," he says. "You picture people with their ears cut off and fights and all the rest." The country sits on some of the world's largest proven natural gas reserves, which Tiller would like to help sell. To that end, he displays glossy literature on Qatar's horses and refineries. He claims that he talked his way into meetings with the Qatar royal family, whom he met through contacts from a camel race that he attended. When New Times seeks verification, he says he does not want to provide contact information for the people in Qatar he's dealing with. The whole yarn sounds grossly implausible until you recall the words of James Billie: "If I wanted to meet somebody today and I didn't know how to meet him, I wouldn't hesitate to call Robb. Somehow, he would get them."
W. Kelley Lucas
"Trouble with his bullshit is that it's for real, half the time. Most of the time, he's telling the damned truth."
As the Seminole chairman, James Billie (pictured) long trusted Robb Tiller as a friend and as an informal business partner.
Anyway, long story short, Tiller believes he could soon become a natural gas magnate. This scenario assumes he can reverse his decade-long skein of business meltdowns. Tiller's friend Flavy Todd, in Pahokee, describes an aborted venture in which Tiller approached a capitalist about starting an airline. "The next thing you know, he cut Robb off," Todd says. "Robb had put the whole thing together. I was with him through the whole thing. This is the way big business deals work, I guess. I try to urge him in these deals to get good attorneys."
Billie describes Tiller's proclivity for getting steamrolled ("He would land deals. Good deals. And fuck 'em up."), but as he ponders his own attempted comeback, he imagines a reunion with his old associate. "I'm pretty sure he and I, by his thinking and my bullshit, we'd probably be millionaires again by next year," Billie says. "I'll call Robb Tiller again. Tell him we need to make some money before he kicks out on me. And he still needs somebody to bury him."