The top 10 highest paid CEOs are...

Ten CEOs take home more than $70 million in 2008, with Blackstone's Stephen Schwarzman topping the list with more than $700 million in compensation.

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By David Goldman, staff writer

Highest paid CEOs, 2008
Name Company Compensation
Stephen Schwarzman Blackstone Group $702,440,573
Lawrence Ellison Oracle Corp. $556,976,600
Ray Irani Occidental Petroleum Corp. $222,639,705
John Hess Hess Corp. $159,566,940
Michael Watford Ultra Petroleum Corp. $116,929,392
Aubrey McClendon Chesapeake Energy Corp. $114,286,867
Bob Simpson XTO Energy Inc. $103,485,972
Mark Papa EOG Resources, Inc. $90,471,784
Eugene Isenberg Nabors Industries Ltd. $79,333,079
Michael Jeffries Abercrombie & Fitch Co. $71,795,744
Source:The Corporate Library

NEW YORK ( -- Last year was a bad one for most chief executives -- but not for the top 10 highest paid CEOs.

Seven chief executives took home more than $100 million in 2008, and three others had paydays that topped $70 million, according to a report released Friday by The Corporate Library.

According to the report, Blackstone's Stephen Schwarzman was the highest paid CEO in 2008, taking home $702,440,573 in salary and stock options. The head of the financial services giant vested nearly $700 million worth, or 25% of the stock options he was granted after taking Blackstone (BX) public in 2007.

Schwarzman will receive the other 75% of his $4.7 billion equity grant from the IPO in equal installments over the next four years, so he will likely remain at the top of this list for at least the next several years.

A Blackstone spokesman stressed that the $702 million for Blackstone is not "compensation," but is mostly the vested portion of his stock from the IPO.

Oracle (ORCL, Fortune 500) Chief Executive Lawrence Ellison, 2007's highest paid CEO, was second on the list, pocketing nearly $557 million.

Like Schwarzman, most of Ellison's compensation came from exercised stock options, which totaled $543 million from a whopping 36 million options. That's despite a 21% drop in Oracle's share price over 2008. With 33.4 million stock options still outstanding and a 24% rise in Oracle's stock, Ellison's likely to keep his top spot on the list in 2009.

The next seven highest paid CEOs all helm energy companies: Ray Irani of Occidental Petroleum (OXY, Fortune 500), John Hess of Hess Corp (HES, Fortune 500)., Michael Watford of Ultra Petroleum (UPL), Aubrey McClendon of Chesapeake Energy (CHK, Fortune 500), Bob Simpson of XTO Energy (XTO, Fortune 500), Mark Papa of EOG Resources (EOG, Fortune 500) and Eugene Isenberg of Nabors Industries (NBR).

Oil prices -- and the stock price of most energy companies -- rocketed higher in the first half of 2008, before plummeting lower in the end of the year. Despite that roller coaster, these CEOs' stock options were still worth quite a bit.

And coming in at No. 10 was Michael Jeffries, chief executive of Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF). Despite a tough year for retail, in which Abercrombie's stock dropped nearly 70%, Jeffries made more than $60 million in stock options.

Jeffries was also awarded a $6 million "stay bonus" after remaining as the company's chairman and CEO through December 2008, on top of his $1.5 million salary, $1.3 million for personal aircraft usage and $382,687 towards his 401(k).

-- CNN's Christine Romans contributed to this report. To top of page

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