Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates took home $3.9 billion last year. Fellow investment kings Carl Icahn and James Simons each made off with more than $2 billion. To the average plebeian, that’s a lot of money.
But for the top 25 hedge fund earners in the U.S., 2011 was the year that they collectively took a 35% pay cut and suffered one of the least profitable periods in their history, according to an annual ranking from investment magazine AR.
Overall, the pool of managers made $14.4 billion last year, down from more than $22 billion the year before, or $576 million each on average. In 2010, that figure was $883 million; in 2009, it was $1.1 billion.
Dalio, chief investment officer of his Connecticut firm – the largest hedge fund in the world with $70 billion in assets under management – topped the list.
He was followed by Icahn of Icahn Capital, an activist investor who has butted heads with companies such as natural gas producerEl Paso Corp., with $2.5 billion. Next came Simons of Renaissance Technologies Corp. with $2.1 billion (and returns in the mid-30s for his two main funds).
Though the average hedge fund slipped 2% last year, seven of the eight top earners landed double-digit net gains for their funds (all of them garnered double-digit gross returns).
But 15 members of 2010’s list were absent last year, including George Soros and former leader John Paulson, who racked up $4.9 billion in pay in 2010 but apparently failed to replicate his success in 2011.