A company spokesman responded that Irani's pay reflects "outstanding leadership" which has brought "excellent performance and exceptional returns for shareholders."

2. Barry Diller, IAC: $1.14 billion

Media mogul Barry Diller's move to IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI, news) from QVC shopping network 16 years ago was a shrewd one financially. In just the past decade, he's earned a cool $1.14 billion managing the company, which runs several popular websites, including Match.com. Most of his earnings came from stock options -- many of which were priced below the prevailing stock price at the time of the grant, an unusual practice, says Hodgson.

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Despite all the money he makes at IAC/InterActiveCorp, shareholders also pay for his personal use of the corporate jet. This set them back nearly $1 million last year. Shareholders have lost in other ways during the Diller decade. Although the stock has recently looked attractive thanks to all the cash IAC/InterActiveCorp has to buy back shares, an investor who put $1,000 into the stock at the beginning of the decade would have just $779 to show for it now.

1. Lawrence Ellison: $1.84 billion

Thanks to massive stock options grants issued every year, Oracle (ORCL, news) CEO and chairman Lawrence Ellison easily tops the list of highest paid CEOs for the past decade. Virtually all of the $1.84 billion he's earned in the past 10 years came from options. But this is actually only a small portion of the vast wealth Ellison has obtained from the database software company he founded. He owns almost 1.2 billion Oracle shares, or about 23% of the stock, a position recently worth $34.6 billion. Shareholders haven't been left out. Anyone who put $1,000 into the stock in the late 1980s right after Oracle went public is now up $143,000. So it's hard to begrudge Ellison for all this wealth -- plus, he's pledged to give most of it to charity.

Michael Brush is the editor of Brush Up on Stocks, an investment newsletter. Click here to find Brush's most recent articles and blog posts.