It paid to be a top-performing hedge fund manager in 2011—very, very well for the some of the biggest names in the industry, in fact.
Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio was named the highest-paid hedge fund manager of the year by Forbesmagazine’s annual list of the 40 best-paid hedgies, which estimates that Dalio earned $3 billion last year. And he did earn it: Bridgewater returned about 20% in 2011, the second-worst year on record for the hedge fund industry.
Two other hedge fund managers—both now technically retired—also took home more than $1 billion last year. Renaissance Technologies founder James Simons brought in $2.1 billion even though he stepped down from day-to-day management of the firm two years ago. (His successors, Peter Brown and Robert Mercer, also made the list with a 2011 payday of $125 million. Likewise, two of Dalio’s deputies at Bridgewater, Greg Jensen and Robert Prince, were among the 40 with earnings of $70 million each.) Carl Icahn, who returned all outside capital in his hedge fund last year, made $2 billion.
After the top three, there’s a steep drop-off in the paycheck department. SAC Capital Advisors’ Steven Cohen is fourth on the list, but made just $600 million last year, less than one-third Icahn’s payday.