According to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Gregorovitch was once the owner of the Elder Wand. Grindelwald stole the Elder Wand from Gregorovitch without defeating him in a duel. So it would seem Grindelwald actually never became the real owner of the Elder Wand, therefore Dumbledore, who defeated Grindelwald in a duel, would also have never become the real owner, which means neither Draco nor Harry would have ever mastered the Elder Wand.

Wasn't Gregorovitch killed by Voldemort? Wouldn't that make Voldemort the real master of the Elder Wand, and therefore able to kill Harry?

  • The Order of the Stick strip #21 is slightly relevant about what it takes to defeat someone: giantitp.com/comics/oots0021.html
    – b_jonas
    Apr 2, 2015 at 9:29
  • But Grindelwald has overpowered Gregorowitsch because he shocked him with a "stupor" just at the moment he jumped out of the window (read the book) So it isn't only that he stole it, he overpowered Gregorowitsch with his own wand.
    – user58695
    Jan 5, 2016 at 15:17

6 Answers 6


Defeat isn't limited to death. Harry won it from Draco just by overpowering him and taking his other wand. Death is only part of the wand's history. It's not necessary.

So Voldemort, on killing Gregorovitch, never won the wand as Gregorovitch was no longer the owner. We can twist some words to say that 'stealing' a wand is nearly the same as 'defeat', as, after all, once you're wandless, you've lost. This gets reiterated when Harry steals Draco's wand, along with two others. After Grindelwald, Dumbledore won it fair and square after duleing him. Draco disarmed Dumbledore, so he won it as well. Harry won it in an indirect manner, he disarmed Draco's normal wand, not the Elder wand (of which Draco knew nothing).

  • 3
    I've removed the obsoleted comments, as this answer now incorporates those points.
    – user1027
    Mar 13, 2012 at 17:51
  • 1
    How come elder wand's allegiance didn't change when Voldemort stole it from Dumbledore's grave??
    – Saurabh
    Aug 29, 2015 at 8:13
  • 4
    @Saurabh Because at that time, it had already switched allegiance to Draco or already even Harry. Dec 14, 2015 at 0:19

Well, you are making the same mistake Voldemort made. The ownership of the Elder Wand doesn't change by murdering only.

  • Grindelwald stole it from Gregorovitch, which is enough to consider the wand won.
  • Gregorovitch must have stolen it as well, since there's no reason to think he was a murder or exceptional at dueling (he was only a wandmaker, an artisan).
  • Dumbledore overpowered Grindelwald in their legendary duel.
  • Draco disarmed Dumbledore.
  • Harry overpowered Draco by stealing his wand, and that was enough for the allegiance of the Elder Wand to change from Draco --who never even touched it-- to Harry.

Note in the last point that Harry interacts with Draco, not with the wand. Even Voldemort understands this, because he kills Snape even though he had the wand already.

Wands must sense --somehow-- a shift in power, and that must define their allegiance (the wand chooses the wizard). Remember that Draco was really weak when Harry took the wands from him (he didn't even try to defend himself), and Harry was full of energy and emotions, so the wand chose him, who at that moment was the stronger wizard.


It seems that the elder wand changes ownership if the current owner is in any way overpowered by an opponent. For example, in the old days it is said to have changed hands by murder (thus it's history), but we see it changing ownership by the current owner even simply being disarmed by their opponents, with neither the disarmed nor the attacker knowing that he now possessed the alliance of the elder wand. This much has been said already.

But what I want to point out is that Grindelwald stunned Gregorovitch before leaping out of the window with the wand, effectively overpowering him. This should have brought the wand's alliance to Grindenwald.

And how Harry was hurrying along a dark corridor in stout little Gregorovitch’s wake as he held a lantern aloft: Gregorovitch burst into the room at the end of the passage and his lantern illuminated what looked like a workshop; wood shavings and gold gleamed in the swinging pool of light, and there on the window ledge sat perched, like a giant bird, a young man with golden hair. In the split second that the lantern’s light illuminated him, Harry saw the delight upon his handsome face, then the intruder shot a Stunning Spell from his wand and jumped neatly backward out of the window with a crow of laughter.


It doesn't matter that Grindelwald stole it or not. You don't have to kill someone and stealing it can do the trick too but it may not. In this case it's safe to say it did. Olivander always said the wand chooses the wizard. By that he meant the laws weren't absolute. At Malfory's manor, Ron blasted Bella's wand out of her hand with the wand he took from wormtail, but Bella's wand didn't change alligence. Why bc it had a choice. I think Elder wand decided to choose Dumbledore bc it recognized he knew wtf he was doing and wanted to be on his team.


J. K. Rowling has discussed how the Elder Wand behaves slightly different from other wands in its loyalty:

"The Elder Wand is simply the most ruthless of wands in that it will only take into consideration strength. One would expect a certain amount of loyalty from one's wand. So even if you were disarmed while carrying it, even if you lost a fight while carrying it, it has developed an affinity with you that it won't give up easily. If, however, a wand is won, properly won in an adult duel, then a wand may switch allegiance ... However, the Elder Wand knows no loyalty except to strength. It's completely unsentimental. It will only go where the power is. So if you win, then you've won the wand. You don't need to kill with it. But ... almost inevitably, it attracts wizards who are prepared to kill and who will kill. And also it attracts wizards like Voldemort who confuse being prepared to murder with strength."

So when Harry wrestled Draco's wand away from him, the Elder Wand decided Harry had more power and switched allegiance even though Draco's own wand may have stayed with Draco out of loyalty.

All of this implies that wands make choices and have unique personality character qualities that control their behavior. They are not inanimate tools.

  • 2
    Where is this quote from? Can you add a source? Oct 17, 2015 at 15:26
  • But why would the Elder Wand transfer its loyalty to a thief?
    – GreenMatt
    Jun 27, 2016 at 14:47
  • @GreenMatt well, if the thief is Grindelwald, the one to become the strongest dark wizard before Voldemort, and the former owner is Gregorovitch, a wand maker and kind of nerd, isn’t the Elder Wand’s choice obvious?
    – Holger
    Jun 5, 2018 at 10:18
  • @JasonBaker read the book for your proof.
    – ava
    Mar 15, 2021 at 15:23

Basically, you don't have to kill the owner of the elder wand to become the owner of it.

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