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John Paulson Personally Lost $3 Billion in 2011

But the former high-flying hedge fund manager’s percentage losses weren’t as bad as some of his investors’.

Disappointed in how your portfolio fared last year? Don’t look for any sympathy from John Paulson. The hedge fund giant personally lost roughly $3 billion last year. That $3 billion is the amount his own capital in his funds decreased in value in 2011.

But things would have been even worse for Paulson had he been invested in the same shares of his funds as most of his investors. Except for the Paulson Gold fund, his funds have two classes: a conventional class and a gold class, which leverages up and uses the borrowed money to invest in gold futures and exchange-traded funds. As we reported a year ago, most of Paulson’s personal money was stashed in the “gold” shares of his funds; and those shares lost 9 to 15 percentage points less than the regular shares of the same funds. One of them — the gold shares of Paulson Partners — made money last year, rising 4 percent. So while regular shares of all of the funds on average lost about 33 percent last year, the gold shares lost closer to 20 percent, on average.

Here is how it shakes out:

It gets worse for many of Paulson’s investors who eagerly jumped into his various funds after they racked up triple-digit gains in 2007 but that are now in the red. They include investors in Advantage and Advantage Plus (the latter uses leverage), which accounted for more than half of the firm’s assets at the beginning of 2011, including the gold shares.

Paulson wouldn’t comment.

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