BUSINESS
09/21/2010 01:28 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Lloyd Blankfein Took Home $125 Million In Bonuses In Last 10 Years, But Shareholders Haven't Been So Lucky

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, took home $125 million in cash bonuses over the past decade, Bloomberg reports.

Shareholders, however, haven't been quite so lucky.

Even though Goldman has outperformed its peers over Blankfein's tenure, Bloomberg points out that one-year certificates of deposit and 10-year Treasury bonds purchased in September 2000 beat Goldman's total return over the same period. The logic behind lavish CEO pay depends on maximizing returns for shareholders, but Bloomberg notes that the S&P 500 Financials Index, which includes 80 companies, has dropped 49 percent in the past ten years.

Blankfein, who paid $26 million in 2008 for a condo in the Robert Stern-designed 15 Central Park West building in Manhattan, and who last month sold his previous apartment at 941 Park Avenue for $12.15 million, has overseen a period of relative strength since becoming CEO in June 2006.

Even as the financial world nearly collapsed around it, Goldman has remained strong, or gotten even grown stronger. When Goldman settled with the S.E.C. for $550 million in July, the perception was that the bank and its CEO, who joined the company back in 1981 when it bought his then-employer J. Aron, had gotten off easy.

Transparency regarding bonuses has been limited. This summer, the financial community braced for embarrassment in anticipation of a report by U.S. pay czar Kenneth Feinberg disclosing the total bonuses Wall Street paid during the beginning of the bailout (from the passage of the Troubled Asset Relief Program in October 2008 until February 2009, when oversight laws were passed), the Wall Street Journal said. But when the report actually came out in July, Feinberg didn't say how much of the total $1.6 billion the 17 firms in question actually got, and declined to cite specific examples of excessive compensation.

He said, according to the WSJ, that the payments "were ill advised, they were troublesome. But I do not believe it is fair to declare ... that the payments were 'contrary to the public interest.'"