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Now is not a good time to be in the auction business, especially if your business involved selling overpriced items to people who have just lost all their money in the market. Sales were extremely slow at Sotheby's "Exceptional Wines" auction on Tuesday night: Only 70 percent of the 190 lots were ultimately auctioned off, bringing in $2.2 million, a far cry from the $5.1 million the auction house had been hoping for. Sotheby's isn't alone, of course: Business has been dismal at nearly every major auction from London to New York in recent weeks. But organizers for next week's Impressionist and Modern art sale at Sotheby's are already bracing for the worst, especially after one of the auction's priciest pieces was unexpectedly withdrawn by its owner. Now they just have to hope Henry Kravis doesn't pull out, too. He's planning to unload his Degas pastel of a seated ballerina, and is hoping for as much as $40 million for the work (he paid $28 million for it in 1999), and we all know that financiers need every penny they can get these days.