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Top Ten Highest Paid CEOs: What Would You Do?

This article was written by in Career and Work. 14 comments.

Are you on this list? Chances are the following list of the highest paid CEOs does not include you, Don’t feel bad; I am not included either. In 2008, these ten individuals accounted for $2.2 billion in compensation in aggregate.

Whether or not CEOs deserve compensation at levels 17,000 times higher than the average worker in the United States or 50,000 times higher than the average worker across the globe is still up for discussion, particularly if compensation is not based on results. But for whatever reason, here are the amounts of total compensation for the ten highest paid CEOs of American companies.

  1. Stephen Schwarzman, Blackstone Group: $702,440,573
  2. Lawrence Ellison, Oracle Corp.: $556,976,600
  3. Ray Irani, Occidental Petroleum Corp.: $222,639,705
  4. John Hess, Hess Corp.: $159,566,940
  5. Michael Watford, Ultra Petroleum Corp.: $116,929,392
  6. Aubrey McClendon, Chesapeake Energy Corp.: $114,286,867
  7. Bob Simpson, XTO Energy Inc.: $103,485,972
  8. Mark Papa, EOG Resources, Inc.: $90,471,784
  9. Eugene Isenberg, Nabors Industries Ltd.: $79,333,079
  10. Michael Jeffries, Abercrombie & Fitch Co.: $71,795,744

According to the report from The Corporate Library, the organization that reported these figures, Schwarzman’s compensation amount includes the vestment of equity shares in the company he was granted when taking the company public. Only twenty-five percent of his total grant vested in 2007, and another twenty-five percent will vest each year until complete. That will keep him on top of the list for a few more years.

What would you do with $702 million — let’s say $350 million after tax? That would leave me with more than enough to start a foundation with an endowment and still have some left over to invest conservatively and provide myself a nice income for the rest of my life.

The top 10 highest paid CEOs are…, David Goldman, CNN Money, August 14, 2009.

Published or updated August 17, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Candide

Correction: it’s $702 million, not billion.

Schwartzman made a promise to donate $100 million to the NY Public Library a year or so ago. Let’s see him up that.

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avatar cherryblossom

So seven out of ten are in the energy sector. Makes ya think.

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avatar KC

I’m in the wrong business.

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avatar Luke Landes

Yes — same here.

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avatar Writer's Coin

It’s funny because I’ve thought of this a million times and whenever I break it down and say, “I”ll invest half in a conservative series of index funds,” it hits me. Will I really invest hundreds of millions of dollars in index funds? It’s scary. Yet I have no problem investing all/most of my Roth IRA money (which is nowhere near that amount, obviously) in those funds.

I guess I feel like, if I had that much money, I wouldn’t “risk” it like that. I’d probably commit a cardinal sin and stash it in my house somewhere.

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avatar Candide

I work with a client who’s worth well in excess of $100 million. He uses short term T-bills and notes.

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avatar Jim

Yahoo finance shows the compensation of top executives. They have figures as of Dec 2008. Ellison’s base bay is about $11M. He exercised over $540M in stock options. Irani at Occidental had base salary of just under $5M and exercised about $185M in stock.

I bet that most of that compensation for those executives was in the form of cashed in stock incentives.

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