Last Year Golden For Paulson, Who Earns $5B

Jan 28 2011 | 12:34pm ET

John Paulson's returns last year didn't nearly match his huge gains in 2007, but that didn't stop it from being better in one crucial aspect.

The Paulson & Co. chief is personally more than $5 billion richer today than he was at the beginning of 2010. That tops the whopping $4 billion he made for himself in 2007, when his bets against the subprime mortgage market paid off with triple-digit returns, and likely sets a new record.

The haul is even more remarkable given that Paulson's funds were in the red—deeply—as recently as August. But the final four months of the year produced huge returns, leaving his flagship hedge fund up 17% on the year. Other funds rose between 7% and 35%.

Paulson himself did even better. While $1 billion of Paulson's earnings last year came from performance fees earned by the $30 billion firm, the rest was pure performance, the gains reaped by the billions he has invested in his own funds, The Wall Street Journal reports. But most of Paulson's assets are now held in the firm's gold-denominated share classes, which, thanks to a booming year for the metal, returned as much as 45%.

Paulson is hardly the only hedge fund billionaire to make further billions this year. Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates, James Simons of Renaissance Technologies and David Tepper of Appaloosa Management each took home between $2 billion and $3 billion last year, the Journal reports.

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