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Good performance, mediocre results or even downright ugly returns. When it comes to hedge funds, it scarcely matters. Even as some investors begin to sour on these high-priced stock pickers, the top fund managers still haul in enormous paychecks.

The 25 best-paid hedge fund managers earned a collective $11 billion in 2016, according to an annual ranking published on Tuesday by Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine.

Even managers who had a tough year were able to cash in. Nearly half of the top-25 earners made single-digit returns for their investors, a lackluster sum in a year when the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was up 12 percent, accounting for reinvested dividends.

The Top 10 Hedge Fund Earners

The top earning hedge fund managers in 2016, based on estimates of performance fees and each individual’s invested assets.

James Simons
Renaissance Technologies
$1.6 billion

Ray Dalio
Bridgewater Associates
$1.4 billion

John Overdeck
Two Sigma
$750 million

David Siegel
Two Sigma
$750 million

David Tepper
Appaloosa Management
$700 million

Kenneth Griffin
$600 million

Paul Singer
Elliott Management Corp.
$590 million

Michael Hintze
$450 million

David Shaw
D. E. Shaw Group
$415 million

Israel Englander
Millennium Management
$410 million

The top earner of 2016 was James Simons, the former code breaker for the National Security Agency and the founder of Renaissance Technologies, who made $1.6 billion. Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates who is best known for his philosophy of “radical transparency,” came in a close second with $1.4 billion. Further down the list was Robert Mercer, the co-chief executive of Renaissance and one of the biggest backers of Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign, who earned $125 million.

But some of the best-known names in the industry — including William A. Ackman, John A. Paulson and Edward S. Lampert — failed to make the list. Also missing from the list: women.

The list is based on estimates drawn from each individual’s share of their firm’s management and performance fees. It also takes into consideration each manager’s own capital invested in the funds.

These outsize paydays come at a turning point for the industry. For eight consecutive years, hedge funds have disappointed, underperforming a roaring stock market. In addition, some managers have lost billions of dollars through wrong-footed bets, marking what one hedge fund billionaire, Daniel S. Loeb, called a “catastrophic period” for the industry.

Some frustrated investors headed for the exits in 2016, taking with them $70 billion from the $3 trillion industry. As a result, managers shut their doors and wound down their funds at the fastest rate since the financial crisis in 2008.

Things became so tough last year that big money managers found themselves sitting at the negotiating table with their investors, offering lower fees and better terms for sharing in the returns.

“It’s a moment in time where you’re going to see a cleansing of the hedge fund industry,” said Adam I. Taback, head of global alternative investments at Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

“The industry had a lot of money and a lot of growth all chasing the same investments,” Mr. Taback said, adding that a culling was much needed for the industry to return to its roots.

Despite hedge fund managers’ struggles to beat the market, their compensation has soared over the past decade. The $11 billion payday for the top-25 managers in 2016 is down from $13 billion the previous year, but still more than double what the top earners made in 2000, the first year that Institutional Investor compiled its list. It also dwarfs the sums earned by executives of public companies.

Even the lowest-ranking manager on Alpha magazine’s expanded top-50 list made more money in 2016 than any big United States bank executive, including Jamie Dimon of J. P. Morgan, Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs and James Gorman of Morgan Stanley, all of who have been criticized for their big paychecks.


James Simons, at $1.6 billion, was the nation’s best-paid hedge fund manager last year, according to Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine. CreditFred R. Conrad/The New York Times

The key to these large paydays is the fee system known as 2-and-20. Hedge funds typically charge investors 2 percent of their investment annually, regardless of performance. So even in a disappointing year, managers still are paid a handsome sum. In the event they make a profit, the funds take 20 percent of that as well.

Not all hedge funds underperformed in 2016. At the $42 billion Renaissance, where a team of cryptographers, physicists and astronomers parse large volumes of data, the firm’s two public funds, Renaissance Institutional Equities Fund and Renaissance Institutional Diversified Alpha Fund, gained 21.5 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

At Bridgewater, Mr. Dalio’s $165 billion firm, the flagship fund, Pure Alpha, gained just 2.4 percent. But its newest fund, Optimal, gained 7 percent, and its All Weather fund, which charges lower fees, gained 11.6 percent.