For some three decades, Warren Buffett, the CEO of investing giant Berkshire Hathaway, has paid himself the exact same salary: a modest $100,000. (Of course, his personal wealth, at some $77 billion, comes from his stake in the company.) But since 2008 his total compensation has jumped, sometimes breaching $500,000.
But it’s not because he’s getting suddenly greedy. The increase mostly comes from the cost of his personal security.
Buffett has employed a security guard, Dan Clark, for more than two decades, but company filings started disclosing security costs as part of his compensation only in 2008. An attempted break-in at his house the year before may have prompted the company to tighten up his security and start paying for it. Last year, as revealed in a filing posted on March 17, it spent $387,881 protecting Buffett.
It’s not uncommon for top executives to make a lot less in salary than they do in other benefits, mostly stock grants but often services like corporate jets or security guards. An analysis by Equilar named Amazon’s Jeff Bezos as the most highly secured Fortune 100 CEO in 2013, with $1.6 million in security costs as against just $81,840 in salary.
Companies don’t report these additional benefits in an entirely consistent way, though, which may be why Equilar missed Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. He earns an annual salary of one dollar, but had over $2.6 million in security costs in 2013 and more than twice that in 2014.