Free Time Warner Center Penthouse for Billionaire Ross?

It’s been two years since The Times reported that Related Companies chairman/CEO Stephen M. Ross grabbed the top-floor penthouse at the Related-developed Time Warner Center.

‘My understanding is it is his plan to buy it,’ said Bruce L. Warwick, president of Columbus Center L.L.C., the company that developed the property for Related… Mr. Warwick declined to give details of Mr. Ross’s purchase, but he confirmed that the developer would be paying the $30 million price listed for the 8,274-square-foot penthouse in the condominium’s offering plan.

Twenty-five months later, Mr. Ross’ deed for the penthouse has popped up in public records. According to that transfer report [above], the mogul’s “full sale price” was $0.

How much should the apartment have gone for? A smaller place 14 floors down just sold for close to $25 million, which means that the number on Mr. Ross’ deed should be heftier than a zero (let alone the original $30 million price tag). On the market, this penthouse would be one of the most expensive apartments in the city’s most highly valued building.

“BOX I” is checked on the deed for Other Unusual Factors Affecting Sale Price, but both Mr. Warwick and Mr. Ross–who is REBNY’s new chairman–declined to comment. What might be a “factor”? The real estate lawyer Stuart Saft said that Mr. Ross could have exchanged his interest in the development for the deed to the penthouse. (After all, many developers take apartments in their own buildings.)

Mr. Ross’ Forbes 400 Richest profile says he’s been living in the penthouse and working in the building, too.

Perhaps he finally transfered the deed into his name in order to sell the apartment?

That’s “not necessarily the most logical thing,” Mr. Saft said, “because if he sells it he’d have to pay income tax on the sale.” (There are other tax-deferred exchanges that would have made more sense, said the attorney.)

Max Abelson Free Time Warner Center Penthouse for Billionaire Ross?