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Oracle's Larry Ellison: Best Paid CEO of Decade

The best-paid executive in the past decade: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. AP Photo

Larry Ellison, founder and chief executive of software maker Oracle Corp., was the highest-paid CEO of a public company in the past decade, making $1.84 billion in that span, according to a ranking from The Wall Street Journal.

The bulk of that enormous loot - as well as most other top CEO's source of compensation - comes from realized gains on options, which alone netted him $1.78 billion. Forbes Magazine estimates his net worth at $28 billion, making him the third richest American and sixth richest human being in the world.

Barry Diller, the chairman of IAC/InterActive Corp. and the man responsible for and The Daily Beast, was number two on the list, receiving roughly $1.14 billion. Ray Irani of Occidental Petroleum Corp. came in third at $857 million.

And fourth on the list is Steve Jobs.

The Apple honcho's pay came in at $749 million, but he differed from most other chief executives in that restricted stock - $646 million of it - represented much of its source.

Where, you ask, is Bill Gates? Or Warren Buffett? Well, Gates stepped down as CEO of Microsoft in January 2000 and retired as a Microsoft employee in 2008. Buffett makes his money from investments and gets only peanuts from Berkshire Hathaway.

It may well irk a few (and there are a great many) Main Street victims of the Wall Street financial collapse to see former Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld and ex-Citigroup Inc., CEO Sandy Weill at 11th and 19th, respectively, and to find former Countrywide Financial Corp., CEO Angelo Mozilo on the list. Mozilo and Fuld cashed in big before arguably driving their companies into the ground.

Could there be small comfort in President Barack Obama signing the financial reform bill last week, which gives shareholders a periodic, nonbinding vote on their firm's executive-pay package?

Well, consider this: four of the 10 highest-paid CEOs ran companies that lost money over the decade.

For more on the issue of CEO compensation, visit The Wall Street Journal's Executive Pay page.

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