I understand that the Elder Wand can only be won by defeating its owner. Grindelwald won the Elder Wand from Gregorovitch and Dumbledore, in turn, from Grindelwald.

After Grindelwald was defeated though, should the wand have gone back to Gregorovitch, since it was stolen from him? To what extent do property rights apply to the Elder Wand? Do they apply at all? Dumbledore, as a famous wizard, was probably pictured with his wand in many papers, so it's possible Gregorovitch could have found out where it ended up. Could Gregorivitch have legitimately brought legal action against Dumbledore to get it back?

  • 4
    Personally I always feel that wand lore is something JKR thought up for the final book as a plot mechanism and has be read waaaaay too much into. There are so many inconsistencies because it was added to the Potterverse much latter.
    – Liath
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 8:24
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    Did Dumbledore know it was stolen from Gregorovitch? I feel like Dumbledore cut off all communication with Grindelwald.
    – Saturn
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 8:45
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    When the wand is won it isn't stolen, it's simply not your wand anymore, it's lost interest in you. Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 11:34
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    @Liath The wand lore stuff had been plotted out at least from the 6th book onward, since events at the end of it determine the fate of the Elder Wand in the final book
    – Jay
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 18:19
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    @Jay Hell, even the first book. Harry is told how the wand chooses the wizard then too isn't he? And he also is told that the wand has a connexion to the wand that murdered his parents and gave him the scar.
    – Pryftan
    Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 21:28

3 Answers 3


Since wands seem to be somewhat sentient in Harry Potter (they can tell if their owner was defeated) and seem to have the ability to bend towards a user that favours them, I don't think laws regarding wands would be designed based on any normal (muggle) property right laws. For instance, lets say A's wand was won by B, so this wand no longer responds to A as it used to, but responds very good to B. It would not be much useful for A even if he did win it back in a legal battle, as the wand has already changed it's allegiance to B

Moreover, since Gregorovitch was in a far away country (Voldemort couldn't even apparate there, he had to fly instead), different jurisdictions would apply which would make a court case more complicated, especially since Dumbledore was a socio-politically powerful figure in his own country (requested to become the Minister of Magic) and somewhat renowned abroad as well

From the wand's allegiance point of view, Dumbledore "legally" owns the Elder Wand
Grindelwald didn't just steal the wand, he stunned Gregorovitch before taking off
We know that the wand changes allegiance even after a successful non-aggressive (somewhat) spell, such as the Expelliarmus charm
Being stunned should definitely count as having been successfully attacked

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.

I realise that it doesn't explicitly say if the stunning spell connected or not, but I think it can be implied from the narrative that it did

  • "Voldemort couldn't even apparate there, he had to fly instead" – I think the Dark Lord doesn't like Apparating, just like Harry. I believe he Apparates at most once during the whole series.
    – b_jonas
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 12:44
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    When Bellatrix called him from Malfoy Manor after she found out they had caught Harry, Voldemort was abroad and was flying to within apparating distance
    – user13267
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 12:53
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    Makes sense. Dumbledore couldn't give the wand back to Gregorovitch even if he wanted to. Gregorovitch would have to defeat Dumbledore in some way; otherwise the wand would not accept Gregorovitch as its master again.
    – Jay
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 16:59
  • @b_jonas He did enjoy flying but it's also a fact that it was a long distance and the longer the distance the harder and more dangerous it becomes. And Harry even sees in Voldemort's mind that he would soon be close enough to Apparate. So actually he did when Harry was caught at Malfoy Manor. He also had to fly to the prison because of the distance.
    – Pryftan
    Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 21:30
  • Dumbledore also wanted to keep it to help others. But then loyalty is also there yes.
    – Pryftan
    Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 21:35


Dumbledore should not give the wand to Gregorovitch.

The wand was stolen from Gregorovitch, but Dumbledore won it from Grindelwald.

So Anyhow it's allegiance changed to Dumbledore.

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    But allegiance isn't exactly a legal concept.
    – BoBTFish
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 6:52
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    @BoBTFish And the wand isn't much of a lawyer...
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 10:27
  • @BoBTFish If you believe loyalty all comes down to legalities I don't know what to feel for you. On the one hand clearly you've been fortunate; on the other hand it's exceedingly naïve to believe that just because something is 'illegal' it's not done: and loyalty has absolutely nothing to do with legalities. On the contrary. Certainly you've heard of 'loyal to a fault'? That about says it all doesn't it? Or 'love me, love my dog' as another example.
    – Pryftan
    Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 21:33
  • @Pryftan Haha, I'm honestly not sure what I thought here, it was 5 years ago after all! There are multiple possible interpretations: one could see that Dumbledore recovered stolen property, which should be returned. Alternatively, as wands exhibit some degree of behaviour and independant choice, grant the wand personhood and say that it was kidnapped by Grindelwald, liberated by Dumbledore, and then chose to stay with Dumbledore. Each of the two different interpretations is more appropriate for the two different transfers, so it's not clear which should apply.
    – BoBTFish
    Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 13:10
  • @BoBTFish Indeed there can be different interpretations. Of the wand though Rowling has made clear that the Elder Wand honours power above all else: and that's part of why it has a bloody history. Or as I might say 'bloody bloody history'. But as for my comment about legalities being irrelevant to loyalty that's not relevant to any wand or HP in general is it? Well.. Unless you want to talk bout certain magical contracts I guess!
    – Pryftan
    Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 21:29

I don't think there was any way Dumbledore could have given the Elder Wand back to Gregorovitch. If he had just handed the wand back to Gregorovitch, the wand's allegiance wouldn't have transferred because Dumbledore hadn't been defeated by Gregorovitch. And it wasn't possible for Gregorovitch to take the wand back from Dumbledore simply because Dumbledore was much more skilled. The only reason Draco was able to take the wand from Dumbledore is because Dumbledore was severely weakened by the potion and he was busy freezing Harry.

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