Hedge-fund manager John Paulson personally raked in $5 billion in profits in 2010, which is “likely the largest one-year haul in investing history,” according to the Wall Street Journal, beating even the nearly $4 billion Paulson made betting against subprime mortgages in 2007. To put the number in perspective, Goldman Sachs paid its employees a total of $8.35 billion last year, split among 36,000 people.
Paulson's gains came after a merely strong performance, not a spectacular one like he had in 2007, when Paulson's funds gained as much as 590%. Last year “wasn’t the greatest trade of all time, but to manage more than $30 billion and still have gains topping 30% is very rare in the hedge-fund business,” says one New York investment insider. Paulson's strategy revolved around betting big on gold. Most of his payday, $4 billion of it, came from investing in his own funds. (Read more John Paulson stories.)