Born in Moscow in the family of engineer (father) and teacher (mother). His father was repressed in 1932. V. Leonovich wished to become biologist but his disease prevented him to graduate from the Faculty of Biology of Moscow University, so he became specialist on the history and theory of arts. He served in the Pushkin's Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, having started as researcher at Section of numismatics and then raised to the Secretary for Research of that Museum.His teacher in ornithology was the famous Russian bird specialist E.P. Spangenberg with whom he participated in numerous expeditions and learned technique of egg collecting, preparing, and keeping. He gathered his private collection of more than 2000 layings of about 500 bird species. Now his collection is in this Museum. Besides, Leonovich was a recognized expert of bird songs: he collected, together with B.N. Veprintsev, hundreds of records of the bird songs and participated in their publication.