25 highest paid hedge fund managers made $32 billion in 2020, a new record

Israel “Izzy” Englander, chairman and chief executive officer of Millennium Management LLC.

Ronda Churchill | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The 25 highest paid hedge fund managers made a record $32 billion in 2020, up more than 50% over 2019, according to Institutional Investor’s Rich List.

A total of 15 hedge fund managers made $1 billion or more, compared with only eight in 2019. The big gains during the pandemic, coupled with the public debate over hedge funds in the wake of the GameStop controversy, is likely to draw criticism from lawmakers and the public over hedge fund pay and fairness in financial markets.

The top earner was Israel “Izzy” Englander of Millennium Management, earning $3.8 billion. His flagship fund was up 26% last year, which was its best return in 20 years. Like many of the top-performing funds last year, Millennium relies more on stock picking than quantitative strategies using computer algorithms.

In second place is Jim Simons of Renaissance Technologies, who earned $2.6 billion. His investors, however, didn’t do as well. Renaissance Technologies’ three main funds for outside investors were down 20% to 30%, according to report. But its Medallion fund, which is mainly for employees, was up 76%. Simons retired as chairman on Jan. 1.

Chase Coleman of Tiger Global came in third place, with a $2.5 billion payday. The fund was an early investor in tech stocks and overseas plays that did well during the pandemic, giving his fund a 48% return. His partner Scott Shleifer, the head of Tiger’s private equity business, was tied for eighth with $1.5 billion. Shleifer just bought the most expensive home ever sold in Florida, paying more than $130 million for a newly built mansion in Palm Beach.

Ken Griffin of Citadel, who is at the center of the GameStop debate, came in fourth, with $1.8 billion as his fund was up 24%. Steve Cohen of Point72 Asset Management was tied for fifth, along with Mets owner David Tepper, both at $1.7 billion.

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