KEY POINTS

  • Bob Iger is stepping down as Disney CEO after 15 years
  • Bob Iger's 2018 salary was 1,424 times that of the median Disney employee
  • Abigail Disney, Walt Disney's grandniece, has long fought against excessive executive pay

On April 20, 2019, Disney heiress Abigail Disney -- a resolute and vocal opponent of excessive executive pay -- criticized Disney CEO Bob Iger’s eye-popping $65.6 million annual total compensation package in 2018 as “insane.”

Disney criticized the massive gap between Iger’s pay and that of his employees at a Fast Company Impact Council in 2019. The philanthropist granddaughter of Roy Disney (Walt’s brother), Abigail has campaigned tirelessly against massive executive pay. She asserts corporate America is being paid too much, and proposes the U.S. make structural changes to the economy by taxing the wealthy more.

“Let me (be) very clear. I like Bob Iger. I do NOT speak for my family but only for myself. Other than owning shares (not that many) I have no more say in what happens there than anyone else. But by any objective measure a pay ratio over a thousand is insane," tweeted Disney at the time.

Equilar estimated Iger's annual Disney salary was 1,424 times that of the median Disney employee for that year. It also confirmed Iger's $65.6 million salary. In 2018, Iger was the third highest paid CEO in the U.S. after David M. Zaslav of Discovery Inc. and Stephen F. Angel of industrial gas company Linde.

Iger's 2018 salary was an 80.9% increase from 2017 when he was paid $36.6 million. The huge jump was largely the result of a pay increase for extending his tenure at Disney through 2021, as well as stock options.

Iger stepped down as Disney CEO on Tuesday after 15 years at the helm, which under his watch became the dominant force in the U.S. movie industry. He will, however, stay on as executive chairman of Disney's Board of Directors until December 31, 2021. It's not known how large Iger's golden parachute will be but it will likely be upwards of his current annual salary.

Forbes revealed Iger now has a net worth of $690 million compared to Abigail Disney's $120 million. Disney, 60, has been tireless in bashing massive CEO pay. In March 2019, she said executive salaries shouldn't be "700, 600, 500 times your median workers’ pay" in an interview on CNBC.

"If your CEO salary is at the 700, 600, 500 times your median workers’ pay, there is nobody on Earth, Jesus Christ himself isn’t worth 500 times his median workers’ pay," she commented.

As a committed philanthropist, Disney has given away $70 million since she turned 21. She said if it were up to her, “I would pass a law against private jets, because they enable you to get around a certain reality.”

Along with 200 other millionaires living in New York, Disney in early 2019 asked the U.S. Congress to introduce a "millionaires' tax" on households earning more than $5 million.

Bob Iger is leaving as CEO at Walt Disney Co., assuming the role of executive chairman in charge of creative projects Bob Iger is leaving as CEO at Walt Disney Co., assuming the role of executive chairman in charge of creative projects Photo: AFP / VALERIE MACON