Unemployment remains over 8 percent, the housing market is still pretty dismal, and NBC's (CMCSA) Whitney has been renewed for another season. There's a lot to gripe about in America these days. Well, not for everyone. The top CEOs in the country have, once again, been rewarded handsomely for their services, giving everyone something aspire to. Or gripe about.
So without further ado, here are the five highest paid according to total compensation through September 6 of last year as compiled by Forbes.
1. John H. Hammergren
Hammergren is the CEO of the McKesson Corporation (MCK) and had what many might consider to be a pretty solid year. Between stock options and pay, Hammergren is pulling down a modest $131.2 million. That's just under double what the next guy on this list made. Hammergren, 52, has been the President and CEO of McKesson since April of 2001 and the Chairman of the Board since July of 2002. McKesson, a distributor of pharmaceutical and health care I.T. systems, appears to be poised to take advantage of the changes in the health care system brought on by the Affordable Care Act. Hammergren is also a director for Hewlett-Packard (HPQ).
2. Ralph Lauren
Ralph Lauren, 72, is the CEO of...Ralph Lauren (RL), which might be part of how he managed to secure $66.7 million in compensation in 2011. That buys a LOT of polo shirts. The New York-born fashion designer built the company that is his namesake, releasing his first polo with the distinctive company logo in 1972 and ultimately taking the company public in 1997. Lauren can't be all smile, though. His compensation is actually dropping some $340,000 after they capped the compensation Lauren could receive for using the private jet. That's almost as much as Mitt Romney earned in speaking fees!
3. Michael D. Fascitelli
Fascitelli is the CEO of Vornado Realty Trust (VNO), an integrated reality investment trust, REIT. He is also a president and Trustee of Alexander's, Inc. (ALX) and serves on the board for Toys 'R Us. Fascitelli did well for himself in 2011, receiving $64.4 million from Vornado for his work. Fascitelli was previously the head of the real estate investment banking business for Goldman Sachs (GS), joining the company in 1985 and becoming a partner in 1992, but billionaire Steven Roth, the Chairman of Vornado, managed to lure him away in 1996.
4. Robert Iger
Robert Iger is the CEO of the Walt Disney Company (DIS), and his compensation in 2011 reached $53.3 million. Iger's held the top spot at Disney since 2000, when he took over for the departing Michael Eisner. Since then, he's overseen the acquisition of Pixar in 2006 and Marvel Entertainment in 2009. Originally hailing from Long Island, the 60-year-old Iger came from the television arm, working at ABC from 1974 until 1999.
5. George Paz
Paz is the CEO of Express Scripts (ESRX), a prescription drug distribution company and the second health care CEO on this list. His compensation for the year reached $51.1 million. Paz, 55, ascended to the position of director in January 2004 after being elected by shareholders and then became Chairman of the Board in May of 2006, a position he has held ever since. This all came after Paz was elected to the position of CEO on April 1st, 2005 in a move where Express Scripts opted to completely ignore the inherent irony of declaring a new CEO on April Fool's Day.
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