The huge compensation of top executives at public companies, especially CEO salaries, has been a subject of discussion for some years. Many shareholder activist groups and public interest organizations have argued that the soaring compensation packages of CEOs are out of control and that the BoDs that are approving these gargantuan packages are way too cozy with the executives and not acting in the best interest of the shareholders. Despite these efforts, however, the total compensation packages for top execs just continue to increase year after year.

Highest Paid CEOs

2013 is new record high for CEO salaries

Public company CEOs earned a record $10.5 million in 2013, up more than 8.8% from already eye-popping $9.6 million in 2012, according to an Associated Press/Equilar report released this week.

2013 was the fourth consecutive year in which CEO compensation at public companies increased following a brief decline during the 2008-2009 recession. The median CEO pay jumped over 50% during that period. The average CEO took home around 257 times the average worker’s salary in 2013, a huge increase from an already shocking 181 times in 2009.

Statement from analyst

“Companies have been happy with their CEOs’ performance and the stock market has provided a big boost,” explained Gary Hewitt, director of research at GMI Ratings, a corporate governance research firm. “But we are still dealing with a situation where CEO compensation has spun out of control and CEOs are being paid extraordinary levels for their work.”

Top paid CEOs in 2013

The top paid CEO in 2013 was Anthony Petrello of oilfield services firm Nabors Industries Ltd. (NYSE:NBR), who pulled down a cool $68.2 million in 2013, up a mere 246% from 2012.

Second on the highest paid CEOs of 2013 list was Leslie Moonves of television studio CBS, who earned $65.6 million, up 9% from last year.

Coming in third on the highest paid CEO list was Richard Adkerson, head honcho at Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE:FCX), who hauled in $55.3 million in 2013, an increase of just under 300% from the previous year’s pay.

Stephen Kaufer of TripAdvisor Inc (NASDAQ:TRIP) makes his first appearance in the top 50 highest paid CEOs list, bring in an estimated $39 million last year, up 510% from his paltry $7 million and change pay package last year.

Coming in fifth place on the list was Philippe Dauman of Viacom, Inc (NASDAQ:VIAB), who earned $37.2 million in 2013, up 11% from 2012.

The highest paid female CEO was Carol Meyrowitz of retail titan The TJX Companies, Inc. (NYSE:TJX), who only took home a paltry $20.7 million last year, up 9% from the prior year.