Lived briefly with the Jesuits, then studied law, natural history, and mining. Traveled extensively in Germany, the Netherlands, and France. Custodian of the Vienna natural history museum (1776). Royal councillor on mining and coinage (1779). Introduced technological innovations in mining, salt-making, and the amalgamation of metals. Published works on mineralogy and paleontology, as well as an anti-clerical satire, Specimen Monachologiae (1783). Prominent leader of the Vienna Freemasons. Mozart’s model for the character of Sarastro in The Magic Flute.
Son of Ludwig and Maria (von Dentis) von Born of Karlsburg (Siebenbürgen). Married Magdalen von Montag (1765); two daughters.