Hedge fund titans Simons, Griffin, Cohen and Tepper earned $1 billion in 2019 before virus outbreak

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Ken Griffin

Lucy Nicholson | Reuters

Renaissance Technologies’s James Simons, Citadel’s Ken Griffin, Points72’s Steven Cohen and Appaloosa Management’s David Tepper were among the biggest hedge fund earners in 2019 with each man raking in over $1 billion, according to Institutional Investor’s Rich List.

No. 1 on the list was Christopher Hohn of TCI Fund Management, who earned in $1.8 billion last year, according to Institutional Investor.

Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio and activist investor and Trian Partners manager Nelson Peltz also made the Top 10 on the annual list, which Institutional Investor published on Thursday. As a result of a banner year, the 25 highest-earning hedge fund managers made a combined $20.2 billion in 2019, the most since 2013.

To be sure, the eye-popping incomes for these individuals came before investors had to deal with the spread of the novel coronavirus and its impact on the global economy. Many of these high-profile hedge funds were caught flat-footed by this unusual “Black Swan.”

Markets have swooned since the end of last year, with the disease threatening to tip the U.S. into a recession as federal and state governments try to slow COVID-19’s spread through business closures and self-quarantine measures.

Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 are down more than 26% since notching all-time highs as recently as February. It’s likely that a significant portion of the managers’ 2019 income was erased throughout the market collapse.

For example, Bridgewater’s Dalio told CNBC last week that his hedge fund was down 10% to 20%.

Here are a few of the managers who made Institutional Investor’s list and what they earned in 2019:

  1. Christopher John, TCI Fund Management — $1.8 billion
  2. James Simons, Renaissance Technologies — $1.8 billion
  3. Ken Griffin, Citadel — $1.5 billion
  4. Israel Englander, Millennium Management — $1.5 billion
  5. Chase Coleman, Tiger Global Management — $1.4 billion

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