The Most Outrageous CEO Salaries and Perks
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Running a company comes with a significant amount of responsibility, but many CEOs enjoy salaries and corporate perks that more than compensate them for the added stress. Along with the corner offices and high salaries, executive compensation often includes numerous rewards ranging from private jet access to handsome retirement packages.
Executive compensation standards are off the charts for some U.S. execs, with CEOs at America’s largest firms making 312 times the annual average pay of the typical worker, according to a 2017 study by the Economic Policy Institute. And the big paychecks are far from the only perk.
Prepare for a shock as you click through to see the top job perks enjoyed by these company leaders.
Last updated: April 28, 2020
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Sundar Pichai: Google Inc.
- Annual Salary: $1.9 million
Sundar Pichai was appointed Google, Inc.’s CEO in October 2015 and joined the board of directors of its parent company, Alphabet, in July 2017. Helming the tech company is likely very challenging, but his 2018 executive compensation package of $1.9 million probably made it much easier to deal with the pressures of the job.
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Sundar Pichai's Salary and Perks
Pichai earned a $650,000 salary and $1.2 million in other compensation, which includes a 401(k) company match of up to $9,250, life insurance premiums and personal use of a company aircraft — including on-board catering.
Although Pichai makes a salary many Americans dream of, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to his earnings in previous years. In 2016, Pichai earned $198.7 million in stock awards alone and a total compensation of $199.7 million — over 100 times what he made in 2018.
Take a Closer Look: Here’s How Google CEO Sundar Pichai Made His Money
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John D. Schiller Jr.: Energy XXI (Former)
- Annual salary: $4.3 million
John D. Schiller Jr. is the founder of the Houston-based company Energy XXI. He served as its CEO until early 2017, when he stepped down after bringing the company out of bankruptcy, the Houston Chronicle reported. The company was acquired by Cox Oil in 2018.
John D. Schiller Jr.'s Salary and Perks
In 2016, which was Schiller’s last full year as president and CEO, he earned a base salary of $910,000, a $568,750 bonus, $1.5 million in nonequity incentive plan compensation, $1.2 million in stock awards and $134,628 in other compensation, which brought his earnings for the year to $4.3 million. The perks in the “other compensation” category included a $28,885 life insurance premium, a $1,100 health club allowance, $24,283 for a car lease and $25,760 for club dues.
In addition to these perks, Schiller made use of his company card — but some of those expenses landed him in hot water with the SEC. According to a complaint the SEC filed against Schiller in 2018, he submitted many “business expenses” for the fiscal years 2012 through 2016 that were personal in nature, including $40,000 for a bottle of wine, $36,000 for a shopping trip for board members’ and senior officers’ spouses, $43,000 for the use of the company aircraft to attend a college football game, and $323,000 to keep his company’s private executive suite bar stocked with liquor and cigars. Schiller settled with the SEC and paid a $180,000 penalty.
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Thomas Rutledge: Charter Communications
- Annual Salary: $8.2 million
Running a TV, internet and voice company that serves 28 million customers in 41 states is a big job, but Thomas Rutledge — a 42-year communications industry vet who got Charter’s top position in 2012 — is paid handsomely for his efforts. The Charter Communications chairman and CEO received a whopping $8.2 million executive compensation package in 2018.
Thomas Rutledge's Salary and Perks
His CEO pay breakdown includes a $2 million salary and $5.7 million in nonequity incentive plan compensation. Rutledge also received $419,152 in other compensation, including $386,182 for personal use of the corporate airplane and $29,718 in group term life insurance premiums.
It’s worth noting that although Rutledge earned more in 2018 than in 2017 — his earnings for that year totaled $7.8 million — he earned dramatically less than in previous years. Rutledge’s compensation in 2016 totaled $98.5 million.
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Mario Gabelli: GAMCO Investors Inc.
- Annual Salary: $10.7 million
He didn’t earn a fixed salary or bonus, but Mario Gabelli, chairman and CEO of GAMCO Investors, Inc., still managed to be one of the highest-paid CEOs with his 2018 pay.
Gabelli founded the investment firm in 1977 and gained a reputation as an expert stock-picker in the ’80s. In 2013, his salary was $85 million — the highest of any Wall Street CEO at the time, Forbes reported. GAMCO averaged $37.3 billion in assets under management as of March 31, 2019.
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Mario Gabelli's Salary and Perks
He earned $1.8 million in incentive management fees and just over $8.8 million in portfolio management fees, which added up to a total of nearly $10.7 million.
Even though Gabelli’s 2018 CEO pay was in the multimillions, it still represented a major drop from his previous earnings. In 2017, he made $69.4 million, and in 2016, he made $76 million.
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Heather Bresch: Mylan N.V.
- Annual Salary: $13.3 million
After Mylan purchased EpiPen from Merck KGaA in 2007, the company raised the price of a two-pack by 500%. The public was furious, but CEO Heather Bresch’s bank account is happy and healthy.
Bresch started at Mylan as a data-entry clerk in 1992 and worked her way up in the company. Prior to becoming CEO, she served as Mylan’s president, and in 2012, she became the first female CEO of a pharmaceutical Fortune 500 company. She is expected to retire when Mylan merges with Pfizer’s Upjohn unit, once the July 2019 deal is approved. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported she could walk away from the company with $37.5 million.
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Heather Bresch's Salary and Perks
In 2018, Bresch earned a base salary of $1.3 million, $7.3 million in stock awards, $1.8 million in option awards and $2.6 million in nonequity incentive plan compensation. She received $332,390 in other compensation, including $20,836 for the use of a company-provided automobile, $98,268 in personal use of the company aircraft and $24,730 from a 401(k) and profit-sharing plan matching contribution. She also had the cost of personal security covered.
Bresch’s 2018 salary is an increase from the $12.7 million she earned in 2017.
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Sandeep Mathrani: General Growth Properties (Former)
- Annual Salary: $14.1 million
Publicly traded real estate investment trust General Growth Properties, which was acquired by Brookfield Properties in 2018, appears truly to have valued the contributions of CEO Sandeep Mathrani. The Chicago-based mall owner gave Mathrani $14.1 million in 2018, which sounds high, but is still nearly three times less than the $39.2 million he was paid in 2015.
There’s a good explanation for the major salary decrease. In 2015, Mathrani received a one-time, $25 million stock award as part of a five-year employment contract he signed that year. He won’t receive his money until at least 2020, but until then he definitely has something to look forward to.
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Sandeep Mathrani's Salary and Perks
Mathrani now serves as CEO of the Brookfield Properties retail group and vice chairman of Brookfield Properties.
Breaking down Mathrani’s 2018 executive pay package shows that it included a $927,692 salary, $5.4 million in stock awards and $7.8 million in other compensation, including severance pay and personal use of the company’s aircraft.
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Ginni Rometty: IBM
- Annual Salary: $17.6 million
Ginni Rometty was named the first female CEO of IBM in October 2011. Employed by the tech company since 1981, she earned $17.6 million in 2018 as its chairman, president and CEO.
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Ginni Rometty's Salary and Perks
Named No. 10 on Forbes’ 2018 power women list, Rometty’s total 2018 CEO compensation breakdown includes $1.6 million in salary, $10.8 million in stock awards, $4.1 million in nonequity incentive plan compensation and $1.1 million in other compensation. The “other” compensation included personal financial planning, personal travel on the company aircraft of $364,643, ground transportation, personal security, family attendance at business-related events and other personal expenses. It also includes an “annual executive physical,” which is far more thorough and expensive than your typical annual checkup. These physicals usually last all day and include a wide variety of tests. They can cost as much as $5,000, according to American Express.
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John Stumpf: Wells Fargo & Company (Retired)
- Annual Salary: $19.3 million
After receiving intense backlash from his handling of Wells Fargo’s fake account scandal, CEO John Stumpf opted for early retirement in October 2016. His reputation might be tarnished, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his final CEO pay.
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John Stumpf's Salary and Perks
In total, Stumpf walked into retirement with more than $130 million. This includes around 2.4 million shares of the company, valued at $109.9 million, a $19.9 million pension and $4.4 million in deferred compensation.
Prior to the controversy, Stumpf had one of the top executive salaries in the U.S. for 2015.
His $19.3 million compensation package included a $2.8 million salary, $4 million annual incentive awards and a $12.5 million performance share award.
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W. James McNerney Jr.: Boeing Company (Retired)
- Annual Salary: $19.9 million
On June 30, 2015, McNerney stepped down as Boeing CEO; he retired from the company’s board of investors on March 1, 2016. Despite scoring a CEO compensation package worth $19.9 million, McNerney kicked off his retirement by accepting a senior advisor role at private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.
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W. James McNerney Jr.'s Salary and Perks
McNerney’s compensation package for his final year at the world’s largest aerospace company is more than the average worker will earn in a lifetime. In 2015, he received a salary of $1.7 million, $6.3 million in stock awards, $11.3 million in nonequity incentive plan compensation and $586,220 in other compensation. The latter benefit includes $7,802 in life insurance premiums and $103,196 in company contributions to retirement plans.
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Jeff Immelt: General Electric Company (Retired)
- Annual Salary: $21.3 million
Former General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt retired in October 2017, but not before cashing in on a giant 2016 payday.
At the time of his retirement, Immelt had served as CEO for 16 years. During his tenure, he overhauled the company’s strategy, workforce and culture. Although some analysts say he is partially to blame for the company’s downturn, he was able to double industrial earnings during his time as CEO.
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Jeff Immelt's Salary and Perks
His $21.3 million executive compensation package included a salary of $3.8 million and a cash bonus of $4.3 million. Also included in his compensation package were $4.7 million in stock awards, $2.1 million in options awards, $1.6 million in nonequity incentive plan compensation, $3.6 million in pension and deferred compensation earnings and $1.2 million in other compensation.
As the CEO of one of the world’s biggest public companies and the most valuable public company in Connecticut from 2001 to 2017, Immelt enjoyed plenty of outrageous perks. The 2017 proxy statement detailed Immelt’s $1.2 million in other compensation for 2016, including $257,639 in personal use of the company jet, $19,516 for leased cars, $445,136 in life insurance premiums, $376,744 in headquarter relocation fees, $7,150 in relocation tax benefits and $69,678 denoted as other.
After Immelt stepped down, the GE board became aware that a spare jet accompanied him on select business trips until 2014. It is unknown when the extra jet started traveling with him, but the company conducted an internal review of the matter.
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Ryan Lance: ConocoPhillips
- Annual Salary: $23.4 million
As CEO of oil and natural gas corporation ConocoPhillips, Ryan Lance supervises 10,800 employees in 17 countries. The company realized earnings of $36.4 billion in 2018, so it can afford to pay Lance a high executive salary.
Lance’s background is in petroleum engineering, and he has held senior management and technical positions with ConocoPhillips, Phillips Petroleum and ARCO over the past 33 years. He has been CEO and chairman since 2012.
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Ryan Lance's Salary and Perks
Lance’s total CEO compensation package totaled $23.4 million, which included a salary of $1.7 million, $11 million in stock awards, $4.9 million in nonequity incentive plan compensation and $372,816 in other compensation. His pension plan saw a $5.5 million increase.
Additionally, Lance enjoyed a number of lavish CEO perks fit for someone running a massive multinational corporation. In 2018, Lance received $161,110 in personal use of the company aircraft, $12,689 in group life insurance premiums, a $23,591 tax reimbursement gross-up, $5,426 for meeting presentations and travel reimbursements, $27,500 for matching contributions under the tax-qualified savings plan and $142,500 for company contributions to nonqualified defined contribution plans.
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Leslie Moonves: CBS Corporation (Former)
- Annual Salary: $47.1 million
Being a studio head is a huge responsibility, so it’s probably not too surprising that Les Moonves earned one of the highest executive salaries of 2018. As president, CEO and chairman of the board for CBS, Moonves oversaw all company operations. He was instrumental in turning the company around when it was failing in the mid-1990s.
Moonves stepped down as CEO and chairman in September 2018 amid allegations of sexual assault and misconduct. CBS stated that it was withholding a financial exit package until an investigation into the allegations against him was concluded, and in December, the CBS board of directors decided that it would not be paying him a severance. Moonves was eligible for up to $180 million if he were to be fired without cause. CBS donated $20 million from his potential exit package to the #MeToo movement.
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Leslie Moonves' Salary and Perks
In 2018, his total compensation package was $47.1 million, which included some seriously lavish CEO perks. Along with a $2.9 million salary, Moonves received $42.5 million in stock awards and $644,938 in pension and deferred compensation earnings.
He also received $1 million in other compensation, which included $587,150 for security, $161,894 in transportation-related benefits and $232,940 in company-paid life insurance.
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Robert Iger: Walt Disney Company
- Annual Salary: $65.6 million
Bob Iger began his career at ABC in 1974, and he has worked his way up the corporate ladder. During his time as chairman and CEO of Disney, he’s overseen the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox.
Disney is one of the world’s most valuable brands, worth an estimated $52.2 billion, according to Forbes. So, it’s not surprising that Iger receives an outsized annual executive compensation package. But not everyone at Disney is happy with Iger’s pay, which includes multimillion-dollar bonuses. In April 2019, Disney heiress Abigail Disney called the CEO’s pay “ridiculous” as part of a string of Twitter posts that criticized the pay disparity between C-suite execs at Disney and the majority of the company’s workers.
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Robert Iger's Salary and Perks
Iger’s total 2018 compensation includes a $2.9 million salary, $35.4 million in stock awards, $8.3 million in option awards, $18 million in nonequity incentive compensation and $1.1 million in other compensation. This category includes cushy CEO perks, such as $328,980 in personal use of the company jet and $787,568 for security.
Iger is certainly the highest-paid employee within the company, but he isn’t the only Disney executive who earned a larger-than-life compensation package in 2018. Christine McCarthy, the company’s chief financial officer, made $11.8 million.
Being the Boss: CEOs Taking Pay Cuts To Help Their Companies Survive
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Andrew Liveris: DowDuPoint Inc. (Former)
- Annual salary: $65.7 million
Andrew Liveris was the Dow Chemical Company’s longest-serving CEO when he stepped down in 2018. During his 14 years in the role, he oversaw many impactful business decisions, including the acquisition of Rohm and Haas — the biggest acquisition in the company’s history. He also oversaw the merger of Dow Chemical with DuPont Co.
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Andrew Liveris' Salary and Perks
During his last year on the job, Liveris earned $65.7 million — $1.9 million in base salary plus a $4.2 million annual bonus, equity grants of $16 million and $43 million in deferred compensation and benefit distributions, Bloomberg reported.
Liveris also enjoyed plenty of perks during his time on the job, including personal use of the company aircraft to attend sporting events and charging dues to a charity he was on the board of to his company. The SEC actually sued Dow for not having these particular perks clearly disclosed in company filings, and Dow agreed to pay the SEC $1.75 million in 2018, Reuters reported.
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Philippe Dauman: Viacom (Former)
- Annual Salary: $93 million
He resigned from his role as Viacom president and CEO in August 2016, but Philippe Dauman isn’t hurting for cash. Named CEO in September 2006, he reigned atop the media conglomerate for nearly a decade.
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Philippe Dauman's Salary and Perks
In 2016, his final year on the Viacom payroll, Dauman brought in an awe-inspiring $93 million in total CEO compensation. This included a base salary of $3.6 million, $13.8 million in stock awards, $7.5 million in option awards, $9.7 million incentive plan compensation and $31,657 in pension and deferred compensation earnings.
Dauman also collected $58.4 million in other compensation. This included $361,716 in personal use of the company aircraft, $22,711 for use of car service and a $58 million separation payment.
Mitch Garber: Caesars Acquisition Company & Caesars Interactive Entertainment (Former)
- Annual Salary: $210 million
Mitch Garber had a seriously lucrative 2016, his final year with Caesars Interactive Entertainment LLC. As the company’s CEO and director, he oversaw the $4.4 billion sales of its casino-style games division Playtika, Ltd., to a group of Chinese investors, spearheaded by Shanghai Giant Network Technology Co.
The $4.4 billion deal was approximately 18 times what Caesars paid for the company, which allowed the company’s main subsidiary to free itself from bankruptcy. Garber earned a onetime $210 million payout in stock options and bonuses when he left Caesars after closing the deal, the Montreal Gazette reported.
Although Garber departed from Caesar’s, he hasn’t left the world of sports and entertainment. He’s currently chairman of Cirque Du Soleil and a board member of NHL Seattle, as well as the chairman of Invest in Canada.
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Mitch Garber's Salary and Perks
Garber’s $210 million CEO pay included a $1.7 million salary and bonus, $168.3 million in stock options and restricted shares and stock he owned in the interactive division valued at $40.3 million.
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Marissa Mayer: Yahoo (Former)
- Total Severance Pay: Nearly $260 million
She took the top job at Yahoo in 2012, but Marissa Mayer resigned from the tech company in June 2017 after playing an instrumental role in its demise. Her departure coincided with the closing of Verizon’s $4.48 billion acquisition of Yahoo, which came with a hefty cut of executive pay for Mayer.
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Marissa Mayer's Salary and Perks
In total, she walked away with nearly $260 million in CEO pay. This included roughly 4.5 million shares of Yahoo, valued at approximately $236 million, and $23 million in severance payments.
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Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.