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James Simons tops Institutional Investor’s Alpha list

James Simons, the founder of East Setauket-based Renaissance

James Simons, the founder of East Setauket-based Renaissance Technologies, was the world's top-earning hedge fund manager in 2016 with $1.6 billion, according to Institutional Investor's Alpha. Above, Simons speaks at an event in Queens on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

James Simons, the founder of East Setauket-based Renaissance Technologies, was the world’s top-earning hedge fund manager in 2016, earning $1.6 billion, according to the annual ranking released Tuesday by Institutional Investor’s Alpha, an online publication.

Simons finished $200 million ahead of runner-up Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates in Westport, Connecticut

Simons, who Alpha said is the only man to make its “Rich List” every year since the list began 16 years ago, finished tied for first in 2015 with Kenneth Griffin, founder and chief executive of Chicago-based Citadel. Each made about $1.7 billion.

Simons, the former head of Stony Brook University’s mathematics department who struck it rich by creating computer securities-trading programs, finished in second place on the 2014 list with $1.2 billion.

Simons was the only hedge-fund figure from a Long Island-based company to crack the list’s top 10. The top 25 hedge fund managers made a combined $11 billion, the lowest total since 2005, according to Alpha.

Renaissance Technologies did not return an email seeking comment. Simons retired from Renaissance in 2009 and remains chairman of the board.

Simons is also the richest Long Islander and the 49th wealthiest person in the world, according to a list released in March by Forbes.

Simons is worth about $18 billion, the magazine estimated.

Among New Yorkers, Simons ranked fourth on the Forbes list, behind Manhattanites David Koch, executive vice president of conglomerate Koch Industries; former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg of financial data and media firm Bloomberg LP; and hedge fund investor George Soros of Katonah.

Simons and his wife, Marilyn, have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to finance the study of math and theoretical physics at universities and labs across the country, and in 2011 they gave $150 million to Stony Brook University.

What you could buy for $1.6 billion

Miami Marlins baseball team

Villa Les Cèdres, 10-bedroom mansion in the south of France: $1.1 billion, with plenty of change left over

10,978 Maserati GranTurismo Convertibles (with more than $66,000 left for gas)

228,571,428 bottles of Pindar Moscato, a Long Island wine

2,465,331 iPhone 7s

3.2 million monthly LIRR passes between Montauk and Penn Station

Sources: Forbes, MarketWatch,, Stew Leonard’s, Apple, Long Island Rail Road

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