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Hedge Fund Managers Who Fell Off 'The Rich List'

"When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”
? George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

The Rich List
The Rich List

A memorable quote that could easily apply to the hedge fund industry as well.

Every year is a battle and last year’s victors can quickly become this year’s victims — and in the hedge fund industry, many did.

“Absolute Return + Alpha” magazine released its annual ranking of the top earning hedge fund managers Friday – The Rich List .

The magazine’s goal is to bring transparency to the secretive space of the hedge fund industry.

Here’s a look at some who fell off The Rich List in 2011 — in a reversal of fortune from 2010.

John Paulson, founder and president of Paulson & Co.

It wasn't a good year for hedge fund heavyweight John Paulson , founder and President of Paulson & Co.

John Alfred Paulson, president of Paulson & Co., Inc, listens during the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee November 13, 2008 in Washington, DC.
Tim Sloan | AFP | Getty Images
John Alfred Paulson, president of Paulson & Co., Inc, listens during the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee November 13, 2008 in Washington, DC.

After earning $4.9 billion in 2010, Paulson lost $3 billion last year. Most of his funds fell 30 to 50 percent because of huge losses on bank and other financial stocks, according to the "AR" list.

These losses were offset, in part, by a winning investment in gold .

In addition to apologizing to clients , Paulson may be paying bonuses out of his own pocket this year. With assets under management of about $23 billion, Paulson is best known for his successful bet against the housing market in 2007, which earned him more than $3.7 billion.

Paulson & Co. declined to comment.

David Tepper, founder of Appalossa Management.

Investing in banks, David Tepper, founder of Appaloosa Management was the best of the best in 2009, number four in 2010 and fell off the “AR” list entirely in 2011.

David Tepper
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
David Tepper

According to the AR report, his Palomino Fund fell 3.33 percent last year and he “avoided posting larger losses … by cutting back his holdings of financial stocks early in the year.”

Of course, financials have recovered in 2012 and the SPDR financial index is up over 20-percent year-to-date.

Appaloosa Management declined to comment.

Edward Lampert, chairman and CEO of ESL Investments

Falling from number six to nowhere on the list, Edward Lampert manages about $13 billion in the ESL Partners fund.

Edward Lampert
AP
Edward Lampert

After making $1.1 billion in 2010, the Chairman of Sears Holding and founder, Chairman and CEO of ESL Investments lost about 12 percent for the year, according to the "AR" report.

Big wins in AutoZone and AutoNation in 2011 were offset by bigger losses in Sears Holding, down 32.7 percent for calendar year 2011.

ESL Partners didn't respond to requests for comment.

William Ackman, founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management.

William Ackman is the founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management.

William Ackman
Jin Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images
William Ackman

Ackman is also an activist investor who lost about 2 percent last year in one of his main funds, according to the "AR" report, while waiting for a turnaround at retailer J.C. Penney.

With about $10 billion in assets under management and JCP up several percentage points in the first quarter, 2012 may be a different story.

Leon Cooperman, chairman and CEO of Omega Advisors.

After just making the list in 2011 at number 21, Leon Cooperman , chairman and CEO of Omega Advisors missed the cut entirely this year.

Leon Cooperman, chairman and chief executive officer of Omega Advisors Inc.
Louis Lanzano | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Leon Cooperman, chairman and chief executive officer of Omega Advisors Inc.

AR reports that Cooperman’s main fund lost 1 to 1.5 percent last year, not as bad as some, but not enough to keep him in the group of top earners.

Omega Advisors didn't respond to requests for comment.

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    Patti Domm is CNBC Executive Editor, News, responsible for news coverage of the markets and economy.

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